Monday, December 31, 2012

Trumpets & Poetry for the New Year!

I return to this collection of poems by the great, Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz as a way of saying goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013, and with trumpets sounding, too. This poem called Tidings from Bells In Winter says much of what I feel about life and humanity. Milosz' words float in from someplace outside of time. What are we moving toward, I wonder? And what will we take with us to keep present?

Here is Tidings in full.  

As for trumpets sounding, I also returned to an early photo of my son who fell in love with the instrument in fourth grade. He's nineteen and still playing.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wishes for You

Wishing you slow time. Stillness. Time to stretch out on a tree trunk.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Adjusting to new normal

Trying to balance regular life this week following slaughtered innocence, blood, tragedy, confusion, anger, hope, faith, prayers--is hard. Change. Create a better American way of life. Brady Campaign. Dianne Feinstein's bill to ban assault weapons. Better mental health care to support families. Writing. Baking chocolate chip cookies. Chicken soup. Friends. A rose quartz for emotional healing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

America's sickness: our narcissistic love of Guns, our fear of Mental Health issues.

Maybe we could not have stopped an insane, sick, psychotic person from carrying out mass slaughter of innocent first graders, but I believe we can do much better.  We can retard these lethal seeds from thriving in our culture, seeds that spawn disturbed, young, white males who are flipping out and murdering strangers in public places. Instead, we can support families dealing with mental health issues, who need help, who need many more options to deal with kids whose coping mechanisms are broken, injured, defective and potentially dangerous to themselves and others. And we can ban owning warfare weapons by parents, a sensible measure to protect our neighborhoods.

Assault Weapons are for war. Not entertainment.

Americans are afraid of mental illness. They can't "see it" so they are terrified of it; and worse, they believe they will catch it. It's a taboo worse than AIDS. We can change our understanding and support of these kinds of illnesses. Solutions are out there. But mental health coverage is egregiously inept in America. It doesn't cover costs of these types of illnesses. Basically, mental health coverage in America is like offering a package of band aids to a patient who needs a kidney transplant. Sad, but it makes me almost glad I had a fatal BONE MARROW disease in my 20s because I got help. Hundreds of people were happy to save me and find a cure. If I had suffered a developmental disorder or mental illness, my story would be a lonely one and one I wouldn't want to tell.

Freedom demands responsibility. It demands leadership. It demands working together. We can make changes. We have to.  Here are clear, simple words from my friend and colleague, Keith Cronin (author of Me Again). And further down, a few links that I hope you find useful.

"When we decided that your right to enjoy a cigarette on an airplane or in a restaurant was not as important as our right not to die from your second-hand smoke, we changed the laws. I submit that your right to shoot at targets and certain wild animals might not be quite as important as our children's right to go to elementary school without having to worry about being murdered. So I think it's time to change some laws. 

It's no different than any other responsibility that has life-threatening consequences. Over the years we've changed the legal age for drinking. And in some states, for smoking and driving.

Bottom line: When we observe-repeatedly and consistently-that people are unable to handle a certain responsibility that brings with it life-or-death consquences, it's time to change a law. I'm not being "political" here; I'm being practical. When you see that something consistently isn't working, you make a change."

Keith Cronin, writer and colleague.  (Author of: Me Again)

Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence

LINK TO ARTICLE written by a mother who asserts "I'm am Adam Lanza's mother" and open your eyes to a hidden problem for our families, your families, your neighbors, your siblings. It's not pretty.

LINK TO article about Calif. Senator, Dianne Feinstein, who will introduce bill to ban assault weapons.

Link to EMAIL to contact Calif. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

"These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children...We're going to have to come together to take meaningful action...regardless of the politics." Obama, 12.14.12

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Latkes Lessons anyone?

What's more delicious than Latkes, which are really pancakes made of shredded potatoes, onions, egg and a touch of corn flour, patted together and fried in hot olive oil? Not much in our opinion. Tonight, my son peeled. My husband sliced onions, and I mostly watched, then happily sat down to eat the scrumptious results.
These are the potatoes, peeled and sliced thin  a la  food processor.

These are  the sliced onions. I think they look like a strange fish cut in half. 

Must drain liquid from the sliced potatoes. We used Maine potatoes. 

Wrap sliced potatoes in a clean dish towel and keep squeezing out that excess liquid.

Ready to begin forming pancakes after potatoes, onions,  egg and touch of flour are added. (My son used corn flour. It worked great.)

Plate full of heaven with a side of candle lights. Happy Chanukah!
P.S. Sour cream and  applesauce also required!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Marking the Day in December

It's been two years now since my dad died (December 13, 2010).

My dad looking for action, and maybe a little trouble, too, flying down this snowy hill.

Last year, I was full of words to mark this date that leads to forever. 

This year, however, brings silence. Maybe I am digging deeper into the quiet earth of remembrance seeking to locate lost items that have been with me my whole life. 

Well, yes. There are those horror stories and difficult moments; but, surprisingly, those multitudes of good memories, wise words, moments of beauty and—je ne sais pas—are winning out.

It’s true about goodness rising.  It’s lighter. It’s  stronger. It floats. It’s true that beauty is larger. It expands, it multiplies over time.  

I'm learning that ugliness & disappointment & destructiveness shrink and shrivel. They do. (But, I can only speak for myself and my experience.)

So, this time around I consider this odd process of loss, of losing a parent--how bizarre this mixing of time and emotions somehow can produce new revelations like milkweed seeds bursting from a pod, seeds of love bursting from a daughter’s heart.

I miss you dad. Hope you are still gardening.

In the yard, tending to his flowers and shrubs, where my dad was happiest.

Season of Lights

The days are so short right now, I'm thankful for all these festive lights brightening the streets of Boston. It takes the early darkness to a different place.

More day scenes of the season's festivities.

Entrance to Boston's Public Garden

Commonwealth Mall

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Budapest - 1990s

Budapest--Mansions like this one recalled an earlier, prosperous era. Who lived there? What happened? Why? Those questions often plagued me when I lived there in the mid-1990s. This photo is from our family album of pictures taken from that time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winter Window Box

Street art. Love the gaity and expressive pop of these wheat-colored reeds. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Revisiting Budapest

Remembering Budapest in November, mid-nineteen nineties.

The painting behind me is by EL KAZOVSZKIJ, one of Hungary's top artists. Our little guy loved traveling in his backpack. He's nineteen now and still loves to travel (with a backpack!). Here we are at the artist's exhibition. Sadly, EL KAZOVSZKIJ died in 2008.  Click here to see more of her amazing work.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Please Sterilize Immediately...Thank you.

"Yesterday was difficult for awhile. Occasionally, thoughts such as is this worth I want to continue crossed my mind. I think it's important that at those times my thoughts need to be more in the line of: I'll get through this. It will pass. The pleasant, painless times are easy. It's the uncomfortable times that need my strength and conviction."

From my Bone Marrow Transplant journal (November 1979)
LAF=Laminar Air Flow (isolation room originally created by NASA for outer space travel)
Jessica Brilliant=Jessica Keener

From Nov. 1979, Journal--"One cannot remove anxiety by arguing it away" and "when astray--your wanderings are limitless." These quotes are from Paul Tillich's: The Courage To Be. Less eloquent are my four words in red: -- CALL THERAPIST IN MORNING

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkeys Roosting at Twilight

Tonight, my husband and I saw a large turkey land in this tree with a full throttle gobble before settling down for the night on a sturdy branch.  Another turkey flapped and flew from a telephone pole to another tree nearby.  Both birds turned and craned their necks for a minute or so, getting their bearings as the moon brightened. We stood a good 60 feet below gawking up at them. I felt in awe, excited, and also a bit tremulous-the turkeys in our town have a reputation for aggressiveness. My husband pointed out that the turkeys had larger concerns than us--eagles on the prowl, for instance.  Sleep well, ancient birds, under your mystical, moonlit canopy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Organ Donors Rule!

Recognize this person?
This week in November recalls the time I was in an isolation room 33 years ago for a bone marrow transplant. My brother donated his matching bone marrow and saved my life. I had a fatal form of Aplastic Anemia and PNH (paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria). This transplant was my remaining hope. It was a highly experimental and new procedure back then. After massive doses of chemotherapy, I lost my hair and gained so much more. My story, Recovery, is based on my 2.5 months spent in the hospital.

You can see my hair grew back, no problem.

More amazing--my (younger brother) was just seventeen when he donated his bone marrow without a blink's hesitation. Now he's VP of Global Sales traveling the world for UptoDate, which provides medical knowledge to professionals worldwide. How can I not brag about this?

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Here's another pretty November morning in Boston's South End. I like to imagine the artisans who labored to create these beautiful wrought iron railings--ornate, fanciful creations of function and design. There's optimism in these curling shapes. This section of Boston is recognized on the Nat'l Register as the oldest and largest Victorian neighborhood in the country.

Twinkie twilight

I believe Twinkies might have been my first brush with alien life, beyond anything I'd experienced before. My mother rarely bought them. But I adored them. They seemed to come from outer space, like some kind of futuristic food. Sitting on my hard, wooden chair in school, they took me to another dimension, instantly. One spongy bite and I was out the window, far far away from multiplication tables and rulers, and #2 pencils. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Finale (in our neighborhood)

Couldn't resist this splendid outburst of color as I walked home from the library.  Makes you wonder about all the glorious things that go on around us without making a sound, or so it seems. How easily I could have passed by without notice had I not turned my head as I climbed the hill toward home.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gazebo in the Sky

Gazebo-has the word: gaze in it. This one looks perfect for sky gazing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Boston Book Festival, 2012!

All roads lead to the Boston Book Festival and beautiful Copley Square on Saturday, October 27, 2012.  Walk, run, drift in; take the commuter rail, hop the trolley. Your favorite books are calling. Authors, readers, bookstore vendors, food, music, trees, cobblestone sidewalks—All events are free. Here's a link for complete details.

And some pictures from last year's event:

If it's Boston, it's paved with bricks
A walking city (Newbury St is one block from here)

Side view of Trinity Church (one of the BBF venues)
Books and Cupcakes go well together

Boston Public Library (Copley Sq. entrance)
Boston Public Library, inside courtyard

BPL skyview from courtyard