Monday, October 15th, 2018

Noodlings From Rangeley, Maine

“Up to Camp “is how we say it in Maine.We went up to camp into the mountains with our five year old granddaughter for four daysTo our quirky little house on Pleasant StWe bought it for under 30,000 dollars, maybe less. Thirty years ago. Each of our five kids had a lousy summer fixing it up.

One painted kitchen cabinets

One gouged (I mean sanded) the floors.

One poly-urethaned  bead board walls that slanted and so created perpetual drip marks

One had the supreme horror of insulating the space

One weeded and weeded  (stalling, afraid of new assignment) a hopeless raspberry patch

Sullen was the look for that Summer Of Our Discontent. David would go to the hardware store and the kids and I  would all play hooky immediately.Swarming outside for Frisbee and freedom.

Now the house is a living museum.My parents Lazy Boy chairs are there. My dad’s Liberty Bell graphic, framed from the Chicago World’s Fair hangs proudly, a water color my mom painted (first and last one} my childhood game of Cootie, ancient blankets from previous lives and marriages, clothes we can no longer fit into and, best of all, every one of our many college books. David and I were both English Lit majors so there are many duplicates of Penguin Classics—most priced under three dollars.Two original Lady Chatterly’s Lover copies. (Could they be worth something?)



—one of my favorite things is to see a stately dark green pine sprinkled with gold leaves froma birch. Festive, festooned. Not so much a Christmas tree decorated, but more like Cinderella dressed for the ball with jewels in her hair. One gust of wind and back to char woman.

—Our granddaughter in her mom’s and aunt’s old room, door shut, thrilled to have her own space. She immediately unpacked and set things up to meet  her taste. I would hear her various voices as she played all the different parts of her stuffies (cat, goose, chipmunk and bear). Kids playing pretend is my all- time favorite sound.

—Nature didn’t cooperate. We went down to the lake on a warm/hot day. The beach had been closed so there had been no  caretaking. Soooooo we were on the Rangeley  Lake beach land mined with duck poop. Lots and lots of duck poop. We picked our way to the water, shrugged, and picked our way back to the car. We didn’t see a single deer, moose or wild turkey that usually think of our lawn and trees as a salad bar.

—We had goofy drama. The muffler fell of the car. My granddaughter looked like she had chicken pox so we spent an afternoon trying to get her seen. (Never travel without written parental permission to treat a grandkid of have a house without calamine lotion.) The kitten we brought along (yep, we did) disappeared in the house. Issa to the rescue. I was stunned by the fortitude and determination of this five -year- old kid. She searched and searched and searched. And found. The kitten was sound asleep in the very narrow broom closet with the door shut.The problem with mini-drama is that they take time away the “real” trip.  You can guess what Issa will remember—lost kitten and duck poop.

—The  Fall color was the most intense I’ve ever seen it. It was right on the edge of garish. Rollicking maybe. Rolling puffs of gold and orange and red making the mountains soft.The strict, sturdy, upright pines of blackish green were a relief. I get the same kick out of a shower of fall leaves as I do of the first fall of snowflakes. Just makes me immediately happy.

—Most good was the rhythm of the day. No electronic screens. Classical music at breakfast. Quiet. Calm. Slow. Easy. Meals at the same time each day. Washing dishes by hand. Constant coffee at hand. Sitting at the table together each doing our own thing—what I call pioneer table.

Grateful for this interval, this family history, this natural beauty, this  coziness during a time of harshness in our world. This Rangeley time together.



Monday, October 8th, 2018

Pockets of Peace



—The world is too much with us: late and soon

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune—


Thanks Wordsworth. We are out of tune as a people, as a country as a world.We are discordant. There is not enough common ground to stand on together.And, at this point, we don’t have a process to create social harmony.I believe we will. But for now, we are out of tune.

But while we work out a new social contract with the greatest good for the greatest number, we need to have Pockets of Peace to nurture us to live in the fray. Pockets of Peace are restorative and simple. When I have my five-year-old granddaughter overnight, the deep breathing she finally falls into as her hands relax and I am officially off duty, is a wonderful Pocket of Peace. When my husband and I clash over daily irritations and we shut up and have a silent hug, this is also a pocket of peace.

Other Pockets of Peace for me are when I:

— drink a fresh cup of coffee in a red mug and sit and sip—no thought, no purpose, just coffee

—share a belly laugh and can’t stop, especially if caused by one of my grown kids                        —get an email from a best friend that affirms who and how I am

— write my truth

— do my kind of prayer/reflection and get a glimpse of timelessness

—remember to light a candle

—give up the day. right before sleep and  surrender all imperfections

—treat myself to lunch alone

— create a little beauty that tickles me like a bouquet of paper plate flowers

—climbing into a freshly made bed (that I haven’t made)


I have the impulse to sing, “These Are A Few of MY Favorite Things” but I’m not talking so much about indulgence and pleasure as I am about refreshing the self in small ways so that each of us can give what we have to give in a world that needs our individual gifts


Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

The Jewish New Year: a great model for reconciliation



I love the Jewish New Year. I was first introduced to it in a book I read in Fourth Grade. I don’t remember the title. I remember that everyone lived in Brownstones and I didn’t know what that was. The fourth grade heroine went to her friend’s house to ask her forgiveness for being mean and catty to her at times during the year. They hugged and said “Good New Year to You” to each other. It impressed me.

I wasn’t even sure what being Jewish was. I had visited a Temple during some inter-faith Sunday School activity of my mild open-minded Methodist Church and remembered the curled up Bible on giant spools. No cross in sight.

My dear friend, Eileen, is Jewish and so I learn as she prepares for each Jewish holiday. Her home is open and the china is on the table and the linen cloths are laid and each holiday is respected and celebrated with meaning intact. And good traditional food is abundant.

My understanding may be wrong but here is what I am attracted to in the Days of Awe.  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are connected. Rosh Hashanah opens the Book of Life—— where all deeds are recorded. Then comes ten days of reflection, The Days of Awe. Not the easy kind of “wow” awe but the big, mysterious, terrible kind of “awe”. Knock you to your knees kind of “awe”.   These ten Days of Awe are when you can set the record straight through repentance and asking forgiveness of those you have wronged. Hopefully your name stays in the book and a new year begins (Yom Kippur).  The language of the services is powerful and inspiring.

I think about how we need times of formal reflection built into our lives in order to realign and recommit—in a marriage, in a family, in a company, and in a country. And we need overt forgiveness that we ask for. It is very hard to do. Gaggingly hard to choke out the words.

I have recently had two acquaintances make amends to me/with me as part of their sobriety practices. My husband and I had an Act of Reconciliation as part of our wedding ceremony of to ensure a clean start. We need more formal, and more frequent, moments that support setting t things straight periodically.

My book I PRAY ANYWAY: Devotions for the Ambivalent was the kick-off of my interest in the new forms that all religions are exploring. I say the same thing in many different ways. We need to let go of what doesn’t work, keep what is essential to the belief, and create new ways to come together with higher purpose than self-interest. It will happen. It is happening. It will be good. It will be hard to get there. It will take formal reflection and the willingness to address our impact on one another. We will care about being good.

L’ Shanah Tovah

Speaking of forgiveness, please forgive any mistakes or misinterpretation of these High Holy Days as I present them.



Sunday, May 27th, 2018


My life has been out of sync with a kind of finesse to it, meaning that it was so cumbersome in so many ways, there seemed to be design to it, a kind of artistic flair.

Mexico was just plain irritating. I had two GI infections which is not at all like turista. The symptoms are fatigue, dizziness and stomach ache. It starts out subtle and takes a while to realize you are sleeping six hours a day!!! To see a doctor seems like climbing Mount Everest. Taxi to doctor, taxi to lab, taxi back to doctor, taxi to pharmacy, taxi back to doctor, taxi to lab again. Finally, I stay awake all day.

So I had to take a few taxis, so what?  Well. Our street which is really a little alley is ugly. It’s always been ugly—stones and trash and an empty lot across from us owned by the past president of Mexico who fences it off and lets it run wild. (I love that the neighborhood just cuts hole in the fence and make paths that are helpful short cuts. Do not fence us out!! So we were thrilled to hear our street would be repaired and new sewer put in.

The work began. The communication was sparse. The road was to be impassable for three months. No cars. And then the phone company decided to do work as well.We had twelve foot mounds of dirt and gravel to travail to get to the corner. Our gate was now four feet above the road. Two ditches were dug in parallel that were four feet deep. Each household had their version of a bridge/plank/ or corrugated tin to get across the abyss. . I fell twice and slashed my leg. I love to be plucky, but getting groceries from the taxi at the corner over the hills and through the dales of stone and gravel to our gate, walking the planks and then carrying up the 40 stairs to the kitchen lost its pioneer challenge  fast.

I decided that sequestering was the best choice. . So I signed up to write a book in nine weeks, except that I put a trip to Maine in the middle of the nine weeks (bumping suit cases over the planks and stacks of stones (progress of a kind). Let’s just say I finally sat down at my Mexico office desk  back in Mexico with just three weeks left to write the book in order to go  take to a three day workshop in DC for editing and review.  I spat out a book (which I have yet to read) and left for Maine to head next to DC.

My computer gave up the ghost. It had no display. The workshop demanded a manuscript in Word on a computer.  I had pledged to watch my daughter’s daughter. She and I spent a day in the Apple store. She wins the ‘good kid” award of the year. I finally bought a new computer, they transferred the content the next day and I was off to DC. Never shut your eyes and just point and buy a computer and go to a workshop that demands familiarity with said computer. Even the USB thingies are different. What do you know! Word doesn’t magically appear. It has to be magically downloaded. Laugh all you souls who are not 74. My tech anxiety makes me whimper. My vision for it is great. The difference between the two define cumbersome for me.

The barriers to ease and getting things done continues.My purse strap will get elegantly caught on a door knob in a way that would be impossible to do deliberately.  Needed appointments collide with fantastic cancellations and changes. The topper was I called my Oregon daughter to ask her to come to Brussels with me and then to Paris. She has wanted to take a trip with me for a long time. Her voice sounded funny and told me she appreciated me asking and would get back to me. Odd. I expected a little delight. Then I got her email telling me she was leaving the following to go to Paris with her mother-in-law!!!  See what I mean? That is art. That being out of sync has finesse. Artfully awful.

I have just come out of a staycation thinking I would luxuriate and read for pleasure. It was, instead, somewhere in between the life of an invalid or a woman in an old bathrobe with a cigarette in her hand wandering listlessly as she slipped into slovenly bliss.  I watch daily triple episodes of House trying to get to get to his final self- destruction or salvation.

I sit as I write at the chiropractor, healing my Mexico fall. I just came out of four days of watching my five year old granddaughter. I had to function and function well, so I did. (But still haven’t won one game of Sorry.)  But the days stayed “bumpety” which is what we call days, when we lose shoes, Elsa’s dress and our favorite book and most of all when we drop things and have to pick them up over and over and over. We prefer “yes” days when we say “yes” to everything and everything says “yes” to us.

And I am heading to “yes”.  “Yes,” here I come.  I’m ready for you. My arms are open.