P.S.-Pooh Says...

"What day is it? - 'It's today' - squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day' - said Pooh."- A.A. Milne

14 October 2017

A Hole of Hope

  To  Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow~Audrey Hepburn
I have spent almost a year now, like many of us, walking in circles, with sleepless nights, listening and watching and reading in outrage, sadness, incredulity and fear...not to mention throwing shoes across the room at every report of Twitter gone mad.  I can't seem to find a comfortable spot for myself. I guess I'm looking for safe, for hopeful, for OK. The morning after the election, when I couldn't stop shaking, I told myself the only answer was keep your head down and focus on your small corner of the planet, create what impact you can, do what you can to create kindness and change-to help in any small way to find hope for better.  My office is above a nursery school and when I see those kids playing and screeching with laughter I want to be with them, in a world without the theatre of the absurd come to life. So I try to take my cue from the kids and when I saw their sign above their garden this week  I realized I too can dig a hole-not to crawl into, though that has been tempting this year, but to fill with a bulb. No an ugly flower bulb doesn't solve too much except keep me out of trouble for an hour or so, but in that burlap bag there is hope. Digging a hole is not going to magically make all of this insanity go away, but at least in a teeny tiny corner there may just be a promise of  a sprout, a stem, a blossom of promise. So like the kids, I take my hole digger, a basket of bulbs and a belief that planting a garden means I still have some control and that there is hope -unless of course the chipmunks and squirrels dig them up-are they on Twitter too?? :)

Where Flowers Bloom so Does Hope~Lady Bird Johnson

04 September 2017

Summer's Treasures

John Singer Sargent

  "Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." -Henry James

Is it growing older, growing up, that make Summertime fly? How often in the past few days have you heard "Can you believe it is Labor Day?" NO! I CANNOT!  Someone go find me July and August please.  I blinked and the calendar said September.

Labor Day weekend has always been an abrupt and an unwelcome end to summer.  For me this year it is particularly unsettling as summer moved on once again without me. All I saw of summer days were my painted toes peeking out from my Jacks, rides with the top down coming and going from the office, and the smiling summer breeze through the screen doors.   No sandy feet, no drives along the coast, no long lazy days with a book-in fact the pile of books that called in May remain unopened.   No use whining over lost beach days but...can I get a Do-Over on summer 2017???  This summer has been unsettling, to say the least, for many of us in so many ways, and a catastrophic hurricane as an exclamation point brings us all to a stop-reminding us that the beautiful days should be treasured. It is as the cliches tell us -the small joys that matter.  So, I am holding to summer's treasures.

Summer is the time of year that everything slows down, nothing much is scheduled of a serious nature during the summer months- everyone is away, or going away, or just coming back from being away...and in summer it is not only perfectly  acceptable, but also fashionable, to be lazy and just sit with a book.  Nights are slow in coming and have a special air with sounds that open windows welcome in-dogs barking, kids riding by on their bikes, night crickets, baseball on the radio...

Via Chance

Of course we will have lots of lovely days ahead-nothing nicer than September in New England. This weekend,however, is a marker, closing the door on "true summer" the season that gives us permission to Go Play Outside.  With Labor Day we have to come in, toss the flip flops aside and put "practical shoes" on--we have to Go Back to School and back to our desks piled high with all the things we said we would get to "after Labor Day". Just this week there  have been subtle signs of the season changing ...a few dry leaves turned on the trees, Mums filling the nurseries, Halloween cards on the racks and my favorite-the "plunking" of acorns as they fall and hit my neighbor's deck.  Mother Nature is serious about her calendar even if I am not.  I cling to summer well into November!

Don't get me wrong I adore the fall- crisp air, amazing colors, tweeds, crunchy knits, the scent of cinnamon and  apples, pumpkins, football the whole New England bit. I dream of casting on yummy cable knits on my needles and digging out the tired blooms replacing with smiling fall pansies and curly flowering kale. Labor Day,however, means we have to be grown ups again, not such a bad thing but you sort of get used to wearing your summer brain.  The new season also means a new start-every one of us remembers what the day after Labor day always meant-new shoes, a fresh box of crayons, a new teacher and a brand new year--much more fun than New Year's Day!

No reason Fall can't welcome in a whole new start-I like the idea!---after this exhausting summer how welcome hitting restart would be-if only!!  but if its OK with everyone I'll delay rowing the boat ashore just yet, and leave my flip flops by the back door for at least a few more weeks.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” -Charles Bowden

 “All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery

18 June 2017

Standing on Love-Daddy's Gifts

There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself.
—John Gregory Brown

This past week I watched ESPN's terrific "30 for 30" about the 1980's rivalry between The L.A. Lakers and The Boston Celtics... Magic v. Bird.  It was indeed all that has branded it-Legendary, Historic, Classic, Nostalgic...and for me a monsoon of memories. To this day when I see those mythic games I can only think of Daddy and the Sunday afternoons with the roar of the real Boston Garden for soundtrack.  After we lost him it would be over 10 years before I could even listen to a game. Now, on this Father's Day, I wrap those moments up and add them to the giant box of sound and images that throw me backwards, fill me with every emotion imaginable, remind me to remember what I know and to look to my feet and the ground I stand on, and pick up that box and take it with me as I walk forward.

 Yes, this is yet another Hallmark day, designed for card sellers and tie makers.  Of course we should celebrate Dads beyond a Sunday in June, but to have a day set aside on the calendar to stop and hug the man or the memories is a good thing. There was a time I ran from this day, a day filled with memories so strong that 27 years later I can still feel all those  family Father's Day cook-outs in all types of weather, the piles of gifts left in front of my Papa who preferred to have all his grandchildren around him rather than packages and left the presents for Nana to open, the clumsily wrapped cans of tennis balls and Izod polos that populated Daddy's stack of gifts...  No, it does not get easier with time.  Loss leaves craters in your life.  Though they can never be filled, and will never be closed, if you have been enveloped with love the holes are softer to look into and can bring both strength and joy.

 Though this will never be a fun day for me, it is a day that holds my own stash of gifts.   This Father's Day weekend may not be my first without Daddy, but like every year at this time I try to keep the mascara from going by hugging the memories and re-opening his many gifts to me.  Gifts that I carry with me every day and always will.  Gifts that are sewn into the core of my soul and especially my heart.

 I proudly say I am a "Daddy's Girl" and that is a badge I wear boldly. There are a lot of negative connotations with that phrase...spoiled, Princess, indulged...but for me the phrase symbolizes not only the unbreakable bond between a Father and Daughter but also the foundation upon which I stand... every day.

"Run your own race,baby. He could have said it a dozen other ways. “Be independent.” “Don’t be influenced by others.” But it wouldn’t have been the same. The words he chose touched my heart and have remained with me all through my life. Whenever I’m at a crossroads, I ask myself, 
“Am I running my race or somebody else’s?"
What a gift he gave me."

We lost my Dad suddenly. After the shock wore off, and the numbness set in, I felt as if I were living without a safety net, sort of free falling-I still have days I feel that way. It took some time to realize that Daddy had left me many gifts, gifts that would help me realize that a safety net would  always there.  The most important gift perhaps is the knowledge that I do have solid ground beneath my feet because of the lessons he taught me-be yourself, stand for what you believe, laugh no matter what, show them how it's done!, know you tried your best, believe in who you are!  These lessons helped to build my base, grow the roots that sprout from my feet and created my own terra firma, composed of all  the love that I was graced to be given. 

How very lucky I am to know that being a “Daddy’s Girl” means that I carry the extraordinary gift of unconditional love with me wherever life takes me. That love has taught me to believe in myself and my strengths, and to know that I CAN “run my own race”- even when I have trouble finding the track. My Father taught me to trust my instincts, believe that there is nothing I can’t accomplish and that the worst thing I could do would be to give up, pass on an opportunity or to sit on the sidelines and never try!

On the days when I think…”There is NO way I can do this!” I hear Daddy saying “just try”. Happy Father’s Day Daddy…Thank you for my many gifts. Oh how I wish you were here to watch me run my race. I love you today and everyday!

29 May 2017

JFK 100

If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.
John F. Kennedy

"If we cannot now end our differences, 
at least we can help make the world safe for diversity"
 -John F. Kennedy

14 May 2017

Daughterhood-A Natural Reflection...Happy Mother's Day!

"Motherhood: All love begins and ends there." ~ Robert Browning
" Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly." ~Ambrose Bierce

Let's just acknowledge from the start, much like Peter Rabbit we don't listen to our Mothers very well...not with our ears anyway. Momspeak after so many years can become the true Muzak of our lives. "Why are you wearing that?" is the hit single we can all dance to-But I promise you Moms, we may not listen...but we hear! 
How else do we grow up to sound just like you??

I consider myself to be a pretty independent woman....known for my strong will with my own opinions and vision of the world. Yes, even headstrong and truly stubborn at times.  "My Way"  or "Don't Rain on My Parade"could be my personal anthems...but there are in fact other voices in my head.  

No matter what else a Mom does with her life her job is her children. For our Moms our "end result" is the product of their career...so of course we have been asked to get it right!! Our success is their success and for more than one generation of women that reflected "glory" or "failure" defined the women who raised us. We are the personification of their life's work-if we messed up so did they. I may have my days when I wonder if I will ever do it right, get it right, but I am a woman who cares a great deal about doing it right,and getting it right ,because I was taught by the women whose thumbprints are all over me that it matters. Sure, I have picked my rebellions to drive them nuts...I never learned how to properly fold a sheet which drove my Nana up a tree. I consistently neglect to wear a raincoat on a potentially rainy day leading my Mother to exclaim that I truly don't know when to come out of the rain.

I have to come to realize,however,that I am my Mother's product. I am put together not with a selfishness or interest in making her mark, but with a complete commitment to her job. She is a Mom, this is what she does. Despite many other roles and abilities, being a Mom is who she is with every inch of her being. If I can stand back and look at the woman who raised me with any objectivity I will see that not every woman who wears the label Mother does that. With all due modesty, my Mother is better than your Mother-ha!
It isn't that other Mothers don't love their children, or that they didn't do a good job, but that somewhere along the growing up line they declared an end game. OK, so a professional might say that is healthy-forget it! Maybe I can't see how it is possible to retire from the most important job any human can have because my Mother, and her Mother before her, never put their feet up on the job-thank goodness! Even though my Grandmother is no longer here she would be happy to know that the Muzak she implanted in both her daughter and in me plays everyday! WWND?-What Would Nana Do? makes us smile,laugh and remember. By some string that will always connect us we do it her way, with our own twist, but Nana is in the building!  How lucky I am -I got stereo! There is my Nana's Muzak and there is my Mother's- not surprisingly very similar tunes.

Of course it is not just the "do it my way" tunes that I hear each day but more profoundly the emotional songs that have taken root from the bottom of my feet. These roots come from knowing without any hesitation or embarrassment that I keep playing those tunes because I need to hear the noise. I need the voice of the person who loves me no matter what! I may not always get it right but there is no auditioning here. Even when the raincoat is in the car keeping the car dry, I know that if I get wet there is shelter available.

I also have the innate comfort that my Mom's job is far from done-her daughter is a product in development and will continue to be, as Anna Quindlen wrote-"A finished person is a boring person." I'm not finished, and only a person who does not need to be loved, does not hear the Muzak or recognize the thumbprints, can be finished.

If you are lucky in this life the bond with your Mom is the simplest, and many times the most complicated, one you will ever have. I am THAT lucky! There is nothing simpler than being loved completely and knowing that her love sustains , motivates and grounds you. The string that runs from Mom to child is the most powerful and lasting connection there will ever be. We may walk through different doors sometimes but we are usually going in the same direction... together! (much like the time we discovered we were in adjacent dressing rooms in Bloomingdales!)

The definition of a Mom cannot be found in a Hallmark card, in an ad for cake mix, or on a rerun of a 70s sitcom. A Mom is defined by her life's work. She can be a Supreme Court Justice or a candidate for President, her Momdom is at the core of everything she does. Her success is not found in material success but in the knowledge that there is a work in progress out there that will always hear her music, always need her tune to be played, and always love her.

 Don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor. The Tale of Peter Rabbit

 Happy Mother's Day Mummy...job well done,but never finished! I love you!

19 January 2017

The "Audacity" and Dignity of "Leading with Hope, Never Fear"

"...if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

As President Barack Obama gave his Farewell Address last week, I didn't want to listen. It would be too hard, but this man,this family, this administration, has meant too much to me, so I sat with my Kleenex box at the ready. The first President I have any memory of was Richard Nixon, and that memory was his resignation speech...thus my political socialization was formed.  With the Obamas came the very first time that I could look at a President, look to the symbol of the office, and feel truly proud to walk as an American.   A man who faced obstruction at every turn yet who led with a grace and a dignity almost unseen in our history. The overwhelming challenges he inherited on day one: a country on the verge of collapse embroiled in economic disaster and multiple wars, an unrelenting Washington establishment that vowed to block his every move from the moment he was elected simply because he was Barack Obama, the unmatched expectations that lay on his shoulders as the "The First"-all meant that this President was never going to win within a partisan planet.  There is never perfection in politics, a system that rewards patronage not need, rarely leaves room for the Hope he promised. There is always disappointment, mistakes, but when this country faced horror, sadness and challenges it was THIS man that we looked to for assurance and comfortWith intelligent caring thought, humor, style, and grace he let us hope. We will not have that again-and perhaps it is that void that hurts the most. Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe and Jill Biden have shown us how it can, and should be done!  Michelle Obama has redefined what the role of FLOTUS is in an age when women's voices and challenges,especially for young girls, need a champion.  Her graceful heart brought meaning to the role that had been strictly ceremonial since the days Eleanor Roosevelt was "her husband's legs".  She opened the doors of her home, America's home, to everyone. She has been a beacon of promise for so many.  Her work for girls all over the world, showing them they deserve and have a right to any future they can envisionEncouraging all kids to believe they could and should have an education. Michelle Obama literally got dirt under her fingernails as she worked everyday for America's kids.  With Joe Biden as his true partner, Barack Obama worked to help this country transition to a new world-one that holds promise and fear A world that means truly being in and of the world-not isolating ourselves or turning our backs on so many that look to this country to lead.  Change is painful, and as economies change and society changes people cling to only what they have known-I get that...but going backward, to a world that doesn't welcome, that segregates, that discriminates is horrifyingly dangerous.  So as I listened to his "goodbye", there were so many memories-his tear laden face on the night of Newtown, his voice at the Charleston Church, the joy of watching him with kids, his heart, his calm and control and ability to literally turn the other cheek, his humor and intelligent cool  ...too many moments, and a frustration beyond words for what he could not change.   His speech last week in Chicago,however, as always, inspired and brought me to tears.  It also left me with a promise of the Hope he instilled, his optimism and belief that "we're going to be OK", that the fundamental core of this country is good.  May he continue to be the crossing guard, the gate holder, the indomitable guide to decency, courage, indomitable cool, and always a real leader standing with every citizen with a  dignity and grace that made us proud.  THIS is the voice we will need, the one we must listen to even when all we want to do is hide under the bed.   Thank you to MY President.
"...democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that, for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one..."

"But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change"
"We have to pay attention and listen."

 “The hope of folks like my dad, who got up every day to do his job at the city water plant, the hope that one day his kids would go to college and have opportunities he never dreamed of,” Mrs. Obama said. “That’s the kind of hope that every single one of us — politicians, parents, preachers, all of us — need to be providing for our young people, because that is what moves this country forward every single day.”  Michelle Obama
“Our glorious diversity — our diversities of faiths, and colors, and creeds — that is not a threat to who we are; it makes us who we are...So to the young people here and the young people out there: Do not ever let anybody make you feel like you don’t matter or like you don’t have a place in our American story because you do, and you have a right to be exactly who you are...Lead by example with hope, never fear...
 And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and 
working to support you for the rest of my life.”
First Lady Michelle Obama
  "So regardless of the station we occupy; we all have to try harder; we all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own."

"The peril(s)... to our democracy is more far reaching than a car bomb or a missile. They represent the fear of change. The fear of people who look or speak or pray differently. A contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable. An intolerance of dissent and free thought. A belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right."

 "Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge."
 "...that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life...
... If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes
 and do some organizing.

...If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.
 ...Show up, dive in, stay at it. 
 My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days...
...But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president — the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.
...I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change 
— but in yours.
...I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes, we can.
Yes, we did.
Yes, we can."