Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Exercise. Patience. Inspiration. Internet

To envigorate my body with good, physical exercise. I joined Curves for the New Year and intend to work out there three times a week every week. Frankly, I'd rather pursue some other form of physical exercise. Gyms seem so artificial. I like walking on the beach, gardening or yard work -- purposeful exercise. But the beach doesn't lure me when the temperatures are low and the winds blow cold and strong. So tomorrow is my first session at Curves scheduled for 9 AM. Yesterday at registration for Curves, I was weighed and measured. The weighing wasn't so bad. I was daunted by the measurements. But wait. They insert those numbers into a computer and pop out %s of body fat. Now THAT really hurt. The goals I set are to lose 14 inches -- yes, 14 inches of body fat from everywhere and 10 pounds.
To be more patient with elders. To stop expecting them to see the world as I do.
To seek inspiration everyday. Make time for art everyday. I have a fine place to work and play at home with good light and pretty good storage for supplies. I work part time. Larry and I share all household responsibilities. So there really can be no excuses.
To limit time on the internet. I love the access to a world of information. I love google and use it for work, for art, for play. But it is a seductive tool and so easy to move in and out of websites going from one doorway of information to another -- and before long hours have passed.

May every stitch bring you closer to the calm clear space in the center of your soul

Knit - knit⋅ted or knit, knit⋅ting;
Verb (used with object) -
1. to make a garment or fabric by interlocking loops of one or more yarns by hand with needles or by machine; 2. to join closely and firmly, as members or parts: the tragedy knitted the family closer together. 3. to contract into folds or wrinkles: to knit the brow; to form or create from diverse sources or elements: she knitted her play from old folk tales and family anecdotes.

My mother was an avid knitter. Knitting, in fact, was her passion, her one indulgence from the work of creating a home for her 6 children and husband.
In my memory, I can't see a time when she didn't have a knitting project in process: hats, mittens and sweaters; little jackets and coats for small children; celtic sweaters; and argyle socks for my paternal grandfather. But, now in her 86th year with failing vision and hands stiffening from arthritis, she is unable to pursue the avocation that gave her such peaceful hours and gifts of love for her family.

"I like making a piece of string into something one can wear".
Author Unknown

My mother raised 5 daughters but she only produced 1 knitter. No, it wasn't me. Oh, she tried to teach me to knit when I was young but I had neither the inclination, talent or patience. To me, it seemed to take forever to make just a few rows of something-that-looked-nothing-like-what-it was-going-to-be .....

In recent years, however, I fell in love with the exquisite yarns available to knitters: hand-dyed, cotton, linen, silk, alpaca, cashmere and mohair. My tactile sense, my love of texture found it difficult to resist their fragrances and the feel of these lovely yarns. I would visit them in shops but I only touched and smelled, then walked away: I am not a knitter. Walking away, I suppose I remembered the slow, clumsy attempts of a girl struggling with something she wasn't very good at doing.
Oh, I liked the clickety - click of my mother's metal needles; I liked seeing the yarn moving rapidly through her hands. But I didn't want to do it myself.

(used without object) - 1. to become closely and firmly joined together; 2. grow together, as broken bones do; 3. to contract into folds or wrinkles, as the brow; 4. to become closely and intimately united.

Recently I asked my mother how she got started knitting. Perhaps, there was someone she knew who knitted? Or something beautiful she wanted desperately to make for herself?

These questions came to me this past autumn when finally I gave in to my fiber obsession and enrolled in a series of 5 knitting lessons through the adult education program at York High School. I remembered 'knit'; I remembered 'purl'; but I didn't know how to begin and I didn't know how to stop.

During Christmas weekend, while my mother was in Maine on a holiday visit, I took the opportunity to ask all my questions. She said it was 1943 when she began knitting. My father was fighting in Europe; she was pregnant with me with lots of time on her hands. A family friend named Kitty Bell (a spinster!) gave her an exquisitely made baby sweater as a gift and that gift became the catalyst for a life-long avocation. She was intrigued by the process and she loved the result of the work. She said she'd never seen hand-knitted work before.

She had to learn to do it for herself.

(Praising her work, I mumble to myself "I can do it, too."

Kitty Bell, who lived on the second floor of the three-decker house (my grandparents lived on the first floor) and another knitter, a Mrs. Watkins who sold yarn from her home, taught my mother to knit. She loved it; she was immediately good at it and she never stopped loving it and enjoying the results of her efforts. She knitted for nearly 65 years -- until age, vision losses and arthritis slowed her down. Now, she says she is not pleased with the result of her work; it doesn't meet her standards.

It makes me sad to think of the loss to her of this great comforting and satisfying joy.

But in 1943,my mother was young and alone and frightened; knitting was a way to pass the time
. She said she never went out in the evening while my father was overseas; she had a lot of time and some good friends to apprentice her to the craft.

In my mind, I see her sitting by the radio listening to war news and quietly knitting; perhaps one of her 7 sisters visited in the evening while she struggled with her first knitting attempts.

Noun - the fabric produced by knitting -
1. a knitted garment; 2. a style or type of knitting; the basic stitch in knitting, formed by pulling a loop of the working yarn forward through an existing stitch and then slipping that stitch off the needle.

A wonderful thing happened on this holiday weekend. I brought out my first knitting trials to show my mother; I asked her help. I asked my questions and listened to her stories from the war years. And then a miracle happened: I saw my mother as a young woman; I saw her youth emerge through the stories. I saw enthusiasm -- excitement -- confidence -- knowledge -- skill and her love for the craft in a way I'd never seen before.

It was magical
: it has been a long time since I've seen my mother glow as she did that late Saturday night.

Between us, a new bond was created by sharing the love of craft and the mutual joy of using one's hands to make something beautiful for a loved one.

It was a lovely moment ........ one I will always treasure.
Title credit: from Earth Heart Designs

Sunday, December 28, 2008

These are a few ......

. . . . . of my favorite scenes from 2008
Some nice memories, too:
My Mom: After a Mother's Day Lunch
with sisters Nancy
and Michelle
A flower arranging summer

started when Michelle invited me to a workshop at the
Emily Dickenson House in Amherst, Massachusetts

& continued with a lovely weekend with
Shelly, Katherine, Esther, Noah and Ari
at their new home in Florence MA
Tony: first grandchild - first love
At a baseball game in June with Larry & me
and a young lady who later broke his heart (and shall remain nameless)

Victoria's visits ~~
surfing lessons in July and theater camp in August

Sand castle building too in August at Long Sands Beach
with Shelly, Katherine, Esther, Ari and Noah

In Pennsylvania for a Leon Redbone concert
at Mt. Gretna in Lancaster County

Driving along Cape Ann after seeing
Garrison Keilor at the South Shore Music Tent
Motif #1 in Rockport

Second place in the Rochester Fair

Three generations:
Daughter Molly
Grandson Dylan & Greatgrandfather Clark

Shelly and Esther came up for a weekend in November
Esther and I went to an American Girl Doll Tea and Fashion Show
They spent the weekend and we feasted on pasta and wine
Esther and I cooked Sunday brunch.

Here they are:
after brunch, playing on the beach on beautiful November day!

Be Yourself .... Everyone Else is Taken

"Many of us are living out the un-lived lives of our mothers...." (Gloria Steinem).
My mom, Doris is 85; youngest sister, Michelle, 46 and me in the middle, 64. My mom was raised in the Great Depression and married at 19; she got her GED at age 75. She raised 6 children: 4 have master's degrees; 1 is an artist; 1 is a writer; 3 are teachers; 1 is a self-employed musician/caterer.
I have been a human services administrator -- cum fiber and fabric craftswoman.
"When you age you become wiser in so many ways .... Experience has shown you the potential of the human spirit." (Coretta Scott King). Wiser, yes, and more patient. More focused and less flighty as told by Caroline Myss the medical intuit. More confident; I am more sure of what I want in my life and what gives me joy.

"Expected the unexpected ~~~ life is never what you think it is going to be." ( Kathleen Kenyon). Larry and I found one another in our 30s; lost one another in our 40s. But the real end of the story is that we reclaimed what we had lost. Our lives changed again when his dad came to live with us.....and once again when I got sick in 2006. We role with the punches and accept was life gives us......

"The important things is to try and enjoy life . . . If you wake up in the morning and you a have a choice between doing the laundry and taking a walk in the park, go for the walk."
(Christine Lee)

Just DO it! Don't hesitate. Don't wait.

Be yourself.
If you have a talent,
don't neglect it."

(Andree Ruellan

"I couldn't live without heroes ......."
( Mimi Weddell)

I seek out mentors ~~
I look for heroes and heroines
and sometimes I've been disappointed.
But I keep on looking . . . . . .

"The happiest people I know are simply
those who are cheerful ....."

(Helen Gurley Brown)
Oscar Wilde

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Good Time.. Kind .. Forgiving & Charitable

I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time,
when it has come round ... as a good time;
a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time;
the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year,
when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.

Charles Dickens

Yes. It has been a good time. A kind and pleasant time. Although the ice storm followed by two heavy snow storms caused cancellation of quite a number of holiday events ~~ dinners and parties with friends and shows ~~ the days that preceded the holiday were still full, indeed.

Stephen and Joanne arrived from Seattle by way of Amherst Massachusetts on the Saturday before Christmas and left on Christmas afternoon. What followed was a series of small events ~~ decorating the tree ~~
~~ dinners in favorite restaurants ~~
~~ Christmas eve lobster dinner and Christmas day brunch.

They left in the early afternoon;
I looked at Larry and said,
"Christmas day festivities never ended this early before!"
And then I promptly lay down for a nap. A lovely long and peaceful nap.

Tonight I cooked a chicken dinner ~~ mind you a 3-course chicken dinner that began with small cups of lobster bisque, included corn pudding, a traditional New England dish, for Larry's dad, and the grand finale as far as the men are concerned, was mincemeat pie and ice cream.


Tomorrow we head for Massachusetts for a family party with my Mom and siblings and their families -- about 30 strong. It will be fine and lovely to see my family. In fact, this is the first year that there haven't been 'words', high emotions, and down-right nasty fights.....holidays seem to do that in my family. I am never ever in the thick of things. Not ever. I play the mediator, if anything. But this year, survival amidst the ice storms and power outages kept feelings at bay. A good thing.

I haven't seen Amy and her family yet. They were to come up on the Sunday prior to Christmas for a 'blended' family Christmas affair but a 20-inch snow storm barred the way.

So tonight I am full of the joy of giving love through the gifts and talents of my kitchen to Larry and his Dad. I am joyfully anticipating the day with my Mom and family.

And, if that were not enough: Shelly, my youngest sister and her daughter Esther, and my Mom are coming back with us on Saturday evening. We have holiday tickets for the Seacoast Rep in Portsmouth preceded by lunch at Warren's, a local seafood establishment since the 1940s.

And I feel blessed.

Do all the good you can . . .

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can,
In all the ways you can, in all the places you can,
At all the times you can!

John Wesley

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Everything is softer. . . more beautiful

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."

Norman Vincent Peale

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Infinite Expectation of Dawn

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour. If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that the chief end of man here is to 'glorify God and enjoy him forever.' " Thoreau

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's the start of a new season

I've finally had to admit that summer is gone; Indian summer days will no more lure me from my work. Autumn is dwindling in its last days.

It's been cold here for nearly a week. The long temperate autumn suddenly disappeared and I was not mentally prepared to put on layers of heavier sweaters and jackets; so I shivered my way through several crisp-snappy days before giving up the ghost of summer-in-my-mind.

We've had heavy frost some mornings and lately, driving rains and high winds that caused power outages on the day before Thanksgiving; some towns in Maine were still without power on Friday!

This weather does not lure me outside; I want to stay inside, make soup and gingerbread, drink hot tea and work on projects. With the Thanksgiving feast a sweet and savory memory, I've returned to my holiday gift-giving projects.

I love making gifts for the people in my life ~~~ the personal touch that says 'you mean a lot to me'. You mean 'this much to me' and embues the gift with something more than a thing purchased quickly at the mall amid the crush and throng of other shoppers all in a rush to get somewhere else. Fast.

Making gifts is a long-standing tradition in our household. When Victoria was little, I would make her a fancy new dress for the Nutcracker ballet and often a matching one for her dolly. Christmas day might find a thick woolen cape for her to snuggle into on cold winter days. Or a new hand-made doll with hand-made doll clothes.

Tea cozies, quilted centerpieces, placemats, pieced and quilted tablecloths also came from my studio as gifts for family and friends. And packages mailed with gifts for family most often have a the special treat of home-made cookies.

So with winter upon us and the celebration of light and love, I am working on wearable art pieces: a jacket for Amy; artsy aprons for my caterer-sister and her partner; a quilt with rocket ships for Dylan; knitted scarves for sisters and sister-in-law.

And loving every minute I spend with my projects and my family, with music, and tea, and good loving feelings.

And remembering that there were years when I was not well enough, hadn't enough physical energy to make gifts for the holidays ~~~~ had barely enough energy to enjoy the holiday.

Ah, but this year is different; this year I have returned to the joys of Christmas past!

And for this I am most thankful.

What brings you cheer and helps you to spend your love on loved-ones?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Singleness of heart

Grateful with singleness of heart


Give us truth in our thanksgiving that we may be grateful with singleness of heart.

We are thankful for the extravagance of the harvest:

For flavors, fragrances, melodies, shapes and colors;

For love, and the love that makes love;

For new babies and old friends;

For the strength that comes from courage;

For the joy that is born of integrity; For the peace that flows from tenderness; For good books, interesting places and unexpected beauty;

For artists who make music, prophets who love justice, statesmen who make peace; and saints who make little heavens in places of distress.

We are grateful for work and for days off; for letters from dear ones and someone to write to; For things that touch our hearts and bring tears to our eyes; for laughter and fun; For children who keep us young, experiences that make us wise, and friends who make us necessary.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It is the best of times . . . .

This, our first summer in York, was almost magical. Our pretty yellow house with its big back deck is tucked into a wooded hollow down a narrow tree lined lane. It offers privacy and cool summer breezes all season long.

We purchased pretty and comfortable deck furniture. This was a major undertaking; we are not very materialistic when it comes to furniture. But we found chairs that recline. Ottomans and side tables. A big glass dining table with an umbrella. They were delivered and we spent the entire day assembling and getting ready for a season of grilling, relaxing and reading the morning paper, sunny lunches, and sharing with friends and family.

And we did all of those things. And more.

Around the house and in the yard, Larry worked his usual magic on flowers that decorated the deck and hung from the house, over the front door and twined around the iron railings. Morning glories that added spark to the day, petunias and nasturshams. Angel's trumpet. Lilies and gladiolas. Begonias and more.

This house is only two years old. The grounds were pretty raw. But Larry made a circle of heirloom tomatoes behind a tall fence to keep away the deer and interspersed them with Japanese eggplants and lettuce.

Beautiful green zebra striped tomatoes, deep red Brandywine, tomatoes from the Ukraine, peach and yellow colors with their sweet suculence.

Each heirloom has its own color, flavor and texture; Larry has been growing them for years and years.

Nearly every morning he woke to deer outside his window nibbling at the undergrowth at the edge of the woods. One day a red fox. Later in the season, wild turkey by the dozens loping stupidly from the woods into the lane.

Larry is a good son.
He just didn't make room for his 93 year old dad to live with us. He continually gives him gifts of time and self --
Theater tickets.
A bridge group.
A computer class.
His favorite meals.
And trips to favorite restaurants.

Oh, he has said he isn't always gracious.
Says he sometimes loses patience and feels frustrated that this is not the retirement he'd planned.
But always he continues on. Always.
Because it is the right thing.
Because he is a good and generous man.

Larry loves books. He is an avid reader and usually has more than one 'going' at a time. Mostly non-fiction but he has been 'studying' the older suspense writers reading their entire body of work. Some books stacked by the bed. By the fireplace. In the great room.

Larry is also a book collector who enjoys the thrill of hunting books at auctions and estate sales. He has a great eye for good buys and often makes a nice profit on those he chooses to sell. Regional history and turn of the century bindings are favorites.

Larry wanted an MP3 player..... but he also wanted it to have an FM tuner..... so last Christmas I bought him an 80 mg Zune that he continues to fill with his favorite music: show tunes, big band, folk music, old standards, Leon Redbone, Bill Morrissey, light classical, smooth jazz. And if I sometimes think I am being ignored it really is just that he 'is plugged in' to music ---- or a baseball game ----- or a news program. But mostly music. I try to wait. . . . .

Larry came into my life more than 25 years ago.
And while he never tried to be a replacement for Amy's dad, he has been the closest thing to a father she has had or will have since her dad died when she was 12. Her children are his grandchildren. And to Anthony and Victoria he has given love, attention, gifts of time and memorable vacations.

Of all and everything that Larry is and has done, his love, care, concern support, and encouragement since my diagnosis of first chronic lymphacytic leukemia and then behcet's disease has neve waivered. Never. He comes to each and every doctor's appointment and is as much a participant as I am. He took me to Canada in 2007 to the first patient advocacy conference because the brightest lights on the planet - experts in research and direct clinical care would be there. And we would learn together.

Is he perfect. No and nor am I. But for nearly a quarter century he has been my life's partner and my best friend. And tonight, the second in a row, I cannot sleep while he is in the hospital for cardiac problems.

Come home, Larry.

What Nature Did . .... .

What nature did was remind her that ripeness is all,
that autumn is the richest season,that preparing for snow means building a shelter,that warmth within withstands whatever winter howls without.

(from the poem, "Ripening" by Joanne McCarthy)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I present . . . . .

The First Family/Elect.

I wept when CNN called the race for Obama.

I wept for the wonder of it; for the rightness of it.

It touched a place deep inside that opened a well-spring of tears that just would not stop.

I cried for hope and optimism and for all that Obama represents, his extraordinary intelligence, vision, and for his beautiful family .... his beautiful and quite extraordinary Michelle who will no doubt bring something fresh and new to the role of first lady. I just could not stop crying.

And then on Wednesday Larry and I saw The Secret Life of Bees at the cinema. I read the book a few years ago; loved it. It was one of those books you love to love. I fell into it and only wanted to turn pages -- not think about mundane obligations like cooking and eating and work.

The book is a civil rights story, 1964 South Carolina. President Johnson has just signed the Civil Rights Act.

The books, the film were made all the more poignant by the extraordinary events of the day before and I cried more and again to think that finally after the generations of injustice to blacks and 44 years after signing of the Civil Rights Act, we as a country have finally done the right thing. We did the thing right and the right thing.

I am proud to be American. Proud that we can and will have a smooth and near seamless transfer of power. And proud of 52% of Americans who gave all the little boys and girls the ability to truly say, "I can be anything" "even president of the United States".

Thursday, November 6, 2008

America wins!

It's over. At last and finally, the long electoral process is over.

I wanted to believe that we Americans would on Tuesday make the best decision for the country. Oh but I was skeptical.

On election day, I rose early and drove to the local high school to cast my ballot without incident in a process that took less than 15 minutes from start to finish. And then with hope in my heart, I kept on the move for the remainder of the day. After an early dinner, I returned to the television to watch and wait the results.

Television is not my preferred mode of entertainment; I probably don't tune in more than a few times a year. But in the last few months I have become a news junkie who needed a daily fix of Keith Oberman, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Brooks and Shields. I know..... I know ...... And when not on the tube, I was surfing the web seeking international perspectives and political blogs. (Newspapers are not my news-drug-of-choice; I don't like the format; I hate just getting into an interesting article and then having to search for the remainder on some distant page; I hate the dirty ink. But most of all, I hate the assault on my senses of rape, murder and pillage every day. Often front page. Often above the fold. Too much. I have always agreed with Andre Weil, 'we need to take vacations from that assault of bad news in the print media.'

Well, on Tuesday night I found MSNBC a bit too hyper for my temperment and they were just a little too eager to call the election ~~ and far too early ~~ and so I opted for the News Hour on public tv. With a cup of tea and settled at my work table, I was prepared for a long night of counting electoral college votes and watching red turn blue (or so I hoped). And as the evening wore on, hope grew larger and larger until it seemed to be reality. Pundits began to sound as though it was a done deal.

When the race was called for Obama I ran to find Larry who was connected to his Zune. We looked at one another and spoke together. Or tried; my words were choked beneath a torrent of tears. A sobbing from the depths and the tears just ran ceaselessly down my cheeks and onto my shirt.

An unbelievable story; a marvelous victory for America.

I waited for John McCain's concession speech. And then again for the real deal, the real reason for staying up so late on this night of nights ~~~ Barack Obama's speech. And still I cried. I cried in joy and hope realized. I cried for possibility. I cried for generations of injustice against people of color. I cried in the wonder of that beautiful young family ~~~ Michelle, young and intelligent, a first lady who will undoubtedly bring a new dynamism to the role, and their lovely young daughters, living in the White House.

And I cried for the millions of children who can say now with a degree of certainty that they can do and be anything. Even president of the US.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

McCain - Palin on Children and Adults with Disabilities

Nearly my entire adult life has been defined by my work in the disability field ~~ as a parent, advocate, volunteer, and professional in a variety of capacities related to children and adults with disabilities. My second child was born with Down Syndrome; I was an early advocate developing residential programs and liberating adults from the warehousing and inhumanity of state institutions, a program and agency director, and national-level consultant and trainer, and associate researcher at a university: nearly 40 years working at the local, county, regional, state and national level on issues related to quality of life for children and adults with congenital, familial and acquired disabilities; currently, I work in a school for children with special needs where all have multiple disabilities; some are medically fragile and require 24-hour nursing care; about 1/3 are diagnosed with autism.

Am I an expert? Would you be drawn to say, "she has more experience than nearly every other American on disability issues" after reading my resume?

Well, I heard John McCain use that qualifier when he introduced Sarah Palin to the American public. I listened in disbelief because I know that 3, 4, 6 months into one's exposure to the world of disabilities does not make one an expert. For me, that time was one of groping and grappling with the reality and enormity of the diagnosis .... of wonder and worry about what the future might hold for my child and my family. And let me add that we were not typical in terms of prior knowledge of families with children who have special needs: my husband was a special education teacher with a master's degree; since my high school days, I had volunteered in various community settings and in state institutions for the people with disabilities.

So, on what "my friends", do you imagine John McCain based his description of Sarah Palin as "more experienced than nearly every other American". For answers, we could look to her record as governor of Alaska. If we did, we'd find that programs for special needs children were level-funded or decreased during her two years in office. We'd see that she used a line-item veto on funding that would make improvements to municipal accessibility for people in wheelchairs, those who are blind or with low vision. We'd learn that Alaska lags far behind nearly every other state in educational opportunities for children with disabilities and in implementation of IDEA. We'd see that in her tenure, she again used the line-item veto against funding to provide community-based services for 1200 adults on waiting lists for such services.

Dial forward to the 2008 election season and see that even her own sister, who has a 13 year old child with autism, has written of Sarah that, "...... she has a lot to learn ......". We read the heartfelt words of an Alaskan resident who is the parent of child with disability and advocate who said she cried when she learned that Sarah was the VP pick. We observe that over and over - again and again across the country parents, professionals, academics and advocates at all levels have rallied against Sarah first as McCain's VP pick, then when McCain designated her 'more experienced', and at his announcement that he would appoint her national advocate on disability.

Follow Sarah around the country. In Colorado, she spoke against support of community-based services for 12,000 adults with disabilities. On the stump elsewhere, she said that more funding disability services is not needed. She talks about educational opportunities for children with disabilities as an "access" issue. And I say, come on, Sarah: we fought that battle and won in the nineteen-seventies. The issue isn't access anymore; the issue is getting appropriate services once in the door.

Does she know or care that IDEA has never been fully funded -- that funding to support individual state efforts is only at 17% of what was originally promised in the mid-nineteen seventies. Does she fully understand that the republican health care plan would eliminate coverage or drop children with disabilities because of the pre-existing condition exclusion in their plan.

John McCain has come up empty-handed on these critical issues. And, he has not put forth any real plans or position statements.

Are the 50 million people with disabilities even on his radar? Or only when their issues offer him a sound-bite or a photo-op or when he can showcase and pander to real people with real life problems as he has done with Sarah.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I want to believe again

I have been troubled by the comparisons made between Sarah and Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and John Kennedy saying that they too were regarded as 'inexperienced' for the presidency.

How does one make the leap from Sarah to these men? A Rhodes Scholar? One devoted decades to the political process? Serious-thinkers? Well-educated and well-read? Intellectuals?

I am sorely troubled by the idea that John McCain will win the presidency. But more, I am distressed, frightened by the thought that Sarah Palin might succeed him. A woman who told Katie Couric that she didn't need to ponder the call to be McCain's running mate ~~ she knew immediately that the answer was, "yes". A woman who does not like to spend time focusing on issues ~~ her style is 'give me the essence and I'll run with it. A woman with whom he had spent a total of 3 hours in conversation. A woman he hadn't met face-to-face until he made the 'ask'.

I am troubled that his decision-making style, as evidenced by his VP pick, is exactly wrong for the times. For the problems we face as a nation.

I am troubled that he is throwing old, tired and worn-out platitudes and ideas at entirely new and complex problems.

I am troubled when I see and hear words and actions that divide us.

I believe . . . that what we need now is someone to lift us up......show us the way out of this maze of internal, domestic, and international problems.

Clothes, Hair and Make-up

You read about the $150,000 spent on clothes from hi-end stores?
You learned that costs for her stylist was over $30,000 for October and September.

How does knowing these things make you feel about the 'hockey-mom'?

. . . make you feel more connected to her, does it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dear John McCain,

Dear John McCain,
Shame, shame on you for holding ordinary Americans in so little regard that you believe we could be lured by your sad and sorry VP pick ~~~ for thinking that she would appeal to thinking women ~~~~ that Americans in general would be seduced by her barbie-doll-flirtatious-behavior. By her stage-presence-facility-reading-lines-performance-on-the-stump.

Perhaps, you thought her inexperience would be obscured by winking and flirting. Perhaps you believed we wouldn't notice her shallow and narrow understanding of global political, economic and financial issues when we saw her suited and polished in $150,000 clothing.

Excuse me for asking. . . but did you really, I mean seriously engage in an honest reflection of the possibility that she was qualified to take charge of the national economy, the federal banking system, national security. Of domestic and international affairs? Do you seriously believe that she is equal to the task of managing our international relationships, two wars, global financial instability and threats and slams to capitalism.

Friday, October 17, 2008


You need a room with no view
so memory can meet imagination in the dark

Blooming all alone

The Last Rose of Summer
Thomas Moore
'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bedside Books

Yesterday, I posted a quotation from Islands by Ann Rivers Siddons whose books I have enjoyed over the years. And, for the most part Islands was no exception. I liked the characters, especially Anny and Lewis, whom the story and other characters revolve around, while she tells the intertwining stories of the "Scrubs", a group of childhood friends and their spouse now middle aged.

The story evolves in Charleston and the Low Country of South Carolina; all of the characters are quite well-heeled and have multiple homes. But the action takes place at a beach house. Some are physicians, surgeons, successful real estate brokers. And, then there is Anny who grew up impoverished, the daughter of an alcoholic mother, a scrappy young girl and woman who made a success of her life in the nonprofit world. The characters seemed believable; the story was compelling -- until the end.

The plot line wanders in and out and around the lives of these 4 couples and their quite enviable lives. Some of them have known one another for most of their lives. And then the unthinkable begins to happen (and for me the story begins to unravel) when first one spouse dies, then a house fire takes the life of another, and another spouse dies on his boat. Enough, you say. Yes, I agree. But clearly, the author didn't agree with that sentiment because she dragged the story line out to an unbelievable and, I think, illogical conclusion.

Here it is, in a nutshell: one of the eight-some, it turns out, is a psychopathic killer who has been orchestrating these horrible events. We are asked to believe that this character, who has been 'best friends' with most of the eight, is actually a crazed woman scorned and waiting decades for vengeance.

Well, I am not such a believer.

And I was really disappointed in this writer. And asked myself: how could she have stooped so low as to manipulate the story line and her readers in so obvious a ploy (no, not plot).

Disappointed all the more because Siddons has been compared to Faulkner and other important southern writers.

And, I ask myself: how would I have brought this story to a more natural and believable conclusion?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The long sweet fall . . . .

"On a smoke gray afternoon in October, we sat on the porch, wrapped in sweaters against the stiff little wind out of the east. Soon it would bring rain; you could smell it coming, and there would be a big wind, because it was born in the east where all the changes get started.

It would be the end of the lingering, muted colors and probably the end of the long sweet fall. Already we lit the fire earlier, and came in out of the purpling twilight ready for heat and drinks and hot food. But on this afternoon, the sense of endings was powerful, and we shivered on the porch longer than we might have otherwise."

(From Islands by Ann Rivers Siddons, 2004

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not wasted time

The time you enjoy wasting ........ is not wasted time.
Bertrand Russell

Monday, October 6, 2008

Things, Stuff and Clutter - Part 3

“Simplicity is the examined life richly lived.
It is asking ourselves what’s important, what matters.
We all think that someday we’ll start living
But few of us feel fully alive.”
Cecile Andrews

Today, as I continue to pursue the 100 things challenge, I am creating a value-based list of MUST-HAVE things to identify what is MOST important to me in my life of things.

I don't expect this list to add up to 100 because these are among my most favorite possessions and are things I really want to have in my life. Not because they are essential to every-day-living but because they touch my heart or my soul in different ways.

In this go-round, I am not counting furniture or books or tableware; I am counting collections as one thing.

Clothes, shoes, boots and accessories
Winter boots (3); my shoe size is only a 5; shoes and boots are difficult to find. These, I keep, until they are no longer wearable
Silk and wool jacket (1); Not new, made in a sewing loft in Greenwich Village by an older gentleman who created only a few each year, but surely loved for the last 15 years
Hand-loomed woolen shawl (1) in the various colors of autumn that I have owned for about 30 years and is still pristine in every way

Crafts, Sewing
Sewing machines (2); the Featherweight and the Pfaff, of course
Japanese imported fabric
African imported fabric

Art Pottery Platter (1) from artstream that Larry bought for me last year
Japanese Pottery (5) a tea pot, winter tea bowls, summer tea bowls from St. Andrew's By the Sea, Canada; the potter, Tom Smith, has been awarded honors by the Japanese for faithfulness to Japanese traditions
Seattle Pottery (6) gifts from Stephen and Joanne, one large spaghetti serving bowl, one small serving bowl, 2 large mugs and three fish serving platters, all in various shades of green with some grey tones

Dolls, Yes Dolls!
Molly Doll (1);
Yes, I have an American Girl doll gifted to me by Amy and Victoria a few Christmases ago
P.E.I. Soldier Doll (1); Canadian; doll Larry bought for me with hand-made costume
Quilts, Antique (1) circa 1810 of French imported fabric called pillar fabric but probably made in Maine
Quilts, made by me (3)
small mariner's compass, wallhanging
bedsize, hand-sewn, Monkey Wrench with an Attitude
the Egglady, wallhanging

The quote with started off this post is from www.mysimplerlife.com