29 March 2011

And Now You're Five

In celebration of your birthday, my darling granddaughter,
I wanted to tell you:

5 things that I love about you.

1. I love your sweet serenity which reminds me of your Mom.





2. I love your feisty, mischievous side and your bright, sunny smile that lights up your face.
Did you know that your Dad has that same kind of smile?





3. I love your funny faces. And that you always add a touch of
glamor with jewelry or "chains" as you call your necklaces.
It's a charming combination!
Did you know I love to dress up, too?





4. I love your cute sense of style that makes me laugh. 
Did you know that your great grandmother was a stylish lady, too?




5. I love how at home you are in water and have been
since you were a baby.What great times we've had together
in the pool, the river and the ocean.
 Did you know that your, grandfather and both great grandfathers
love swimming, too?





And my 5 birthday wishes for you:


1. Your smile lights up my heart. 
I wish for you a year filled with smiles.





2. Your beautiful eyes are a gift from your other grandmother.
Eyes are said to be the windows of the soul and yours is lovely. 
I wish for you a year where your soul is nourished deeply.





3. You've grown to be such a fun girl with a thirst for
adventure and an athletic spirit. 
I wish for you a year of adventures that grow your muscles strong.




4. And now you're a student, smart and excited about learning. You dived
into reading and can't get enough of books. 
I wish for you a year where your love of learning and books
 grows and grows.




5. You tell your Mom every day how to fix your hair and you try out different styles when you dress. 
I wish for you a year of growing confidence in your opinions and your willingness to share them.




Did you know that you are very much like your Mom
when she was your age?

Happy Birthday, five year old. I'm glad you were born to our family. 
Being your grandmother is a kick. I love you.

26 March 2011

Celebrating Life Events

I already posted about running the National Breast Cancer Half Marathon with my daughter but the photos and plaque came yesterday and I am excited to share them. The plaque is my way of celebrating this significant life event. It makes me happy to see it and remember the wonderful feelings of running,  running with my daughter, and cheering for two of my nieces who walked it. What a great day and a worthy cause.



Photo at the beginning of the  Marathon and Half Marathon. There are about 10,000 participants!:




Half way through the Half Marathon there was a photographer so my daughter and I grabbed hands:




At the end of the half marathon there was a photographer so we again held hands. We were high at this point, feeling good about ourselves and glad to be running for my husband's sister, Peg. We were cheered on by so many family members who were there at the finish line:




Here's the plaque commemorating this wonderful life event. It hangs in my office with the family photos:




Loved running with you, Kelly. Loved sharing the day with you, Danielle and Marian. Thanks for all the support, dear family. Good for us!

24 March 2011

Cuffs' Legacy


This post is in response to the word prompt "cuffs" by Velvet Verbosity at the 100 Word Challenge.



Every time she cuffs him, we cringe. She targets him. Today, she went further; grabbed his head, hit it against a locker. The ring of it resounded down the corridor loud enough to draw response. We, his classmates, stunned silent, were secretly glad as we shook that it wasn't us.

Her punishment always outdoes his infraction, whatever it was. What could a nine year old boy do to make a nun smash his head into that tall, shiny, empty, metal locker? No adult intervenes. Ever. We didn't know they should. Maybe that's the worst outcome. Except for his, of course.

23 March 2011

The Cool New iPad

I'm writing this post on my new iPad. My iMac is a desktop so, when I travel, I obviously can't take it. But I wanted a way to get email, FB and the internet, especially for the blogosphere. With the iPad I can do all that and also carry my photos, songs as well as any of the 65,000 apps that I've downloaded. Or that my grands have downloaded since both of them have a folder on my desktop with their games.

There are many so many cool things about this iPad that I don't know where to begin. just to name a few: the keyboard is full size, The apps are amazing to a mere novice in this world of things technical, it corrects my spelling as I go along automatically or I can cancel the correction if I want to, it takes a very, very light touch to type, the screen display is 9 1/2 ", photos are large as a result and a flick of the finger moves them forward or backward, it is intuitive which is good for a non techie, it's all done by touch so my finger is my cursor, I can download and read books, and one of the apps is called "Star Walk" which displays the stars and constellations of any direction that I point the iPad and then goes deeper into space with a touch (this is unbelievably, gorgeously cool!).

Deep breath, you really wouldn't believe the number and types of apps under 20 categories. I'd be interested in swapping info on favorites if others have iPads or iPhones. My current fav is the Star Walk- total knock out! If I have access to the Internet, email, FB and my blog, why do I need a computer? I heard Steve Jobs call this a post PC product. Maybe that's what he meant. Hmmmm.







What's your favorite app?

21 March 2011

Friends Right in The Family

I had no sisters growing up so when one of my brothers got married, his bride to be, who also had no sisters, said she was thrilled to finally have a sister. Our paths criss crossed after that; we lived far apart mostly, close together for a short time, had our children, became absorbed with all that goes with raising a family, and circled each other with rare but important connections. Then her world as she knew it fell apart and she and my brother got divorced. We lived half the country apart at that time. Sometimes, though, loss in one area frees up deeper connections in another.

It happened nine years ago when I moved back to New England from California and wanted to get to know my nieces better, reestablish contact with them, get to know them as adults. I called a gathering in Maine of my daughter and eight nieces. My husband's sister offered to come and help and I was glad. Then, something unexpected happened; three of my nieces called and asked if their mother, my sister-in-law, could be involved as well. If all three of her daughters wanted it, she was in. We had our first gathering in 2004. All nine young women and the three crones attended. We had our 7th gathering in 2010 and everyone has attended every year, except my husband's sister who died of breast cancer in 2007.

Magic and miracles have occurred, one of them is the friendship with my sister-in-law. Although, now I call her my sister and feel grateful that I can. In the process of sharing, supporting and being together, we've grown closer, become dear friends. We visit twice a year, shop together, gab about our grandchildren, travel together, have a great time together and look forward to more. She's had health challenges that worry her. But I know in my heart that whatever she'll face, we'll face together. We're friends; friends do that for each other.

Thanks for your friendship, G. I love you.

16 March 2011

Lucky Chicken


I want to share a wonderful story. It's a true story of a lucky chicken and her new friends. It's a story of redemption, hope and survival. It's an important story right now.

The story starts with my friend, Sheila, taking her trash to a receptacle near her home on the way to a luncheon with her friend. She was dressed in a white linen dress for the occasion. As Sheila threw in her trash, she heard a noise that she couldn't identify. She alerted her friend, who also didn't know what she was hearing. "But, we're all dressed up and going to a luncheon" pleaded her friend.

Sheila, animal lover that she is, couldn't give up once she heard that faint sound. "I'm going to see what's in there" Trash receptacles in Italy are big and tall and loaded from the top. This one was full. Sheila is maybe 5'3" (160cm). Undeterred, she started taking trash out bag by bag and item by item, determined to find what was making that sound. She had to go to the bottom, her dress ruined by then, only to find a white plastic bag tied at the top with a weak sound coming from it. 

She opened it to find a small chicken of indeterminate age with its head lolling off to the side and emitting the pitiful sound.  After she got over the shock, she could see that the chicken was dying and her heart went out to the poor creature. Sheila told her friend that she wanted to take it to her house so it could die in the open looking at the sky (and so she could change her clothes).

So, home they went, where Sheila found an old dog crate to put the chicken in to protect it while it died.  To her surprise when she came home from the luncheon, Sheila found the chicken standing up on wobbly legs and not dead at all. Unsure what to feed it, Sheila went to the local hardware store and asked. She bought what they recommended and brought it home to see if the chicken would eat. It did. And it ate daily for the next four days looking stronger and healthier each day.

On the fourth day, an amazing thing happened. The chicken, now named Hattie, laid an egg. She has laid an egg every day since, much to Sheila's delight. She moved Hattie's crate into her dogs' enclosure and they've all become fast friends. 

Hattie has filled out and grown handsome rust red feathers. She struts around the yard, follows Sheila everywhere, plays with the dogs, bosses everyone and loves her new life. 
Like I said, it's a wonderful story.


Hattie



Hattie and her friends.

15 March 2011

Bouyancy

 I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence.

To praise is to praise
how one surrenders to the emptiness.

To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.

So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where?
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck
we could have. It is a total waking-up.

Why should we grieve that we have been sleeping?
It does not matter how long we've been unconscious.
We are groggy, but let the guilt go.

Feel the motions of tenderness
around you, the bouyancy.

Rumi




I don't know why this poem by Rumi is just right for me today, but it is. Sometimes I feel that I've been sleeping, unconscious, and then experience that total waking up. Japan's upheaval had that effect on me. Bless them all. In his compassion, Rumi counsels not guilt about our sleeping but tenderness towards ourselves. 
 Bouyancy is a gift.





11 March 2011

The World Watches

When I wrote my earlier post last night and published it this morning, Japan's tragedy hadn't struck. It was a happy, if wistful, post about having fun together. Now, the world watches in horror as the mighty force and staggering devastation of Japan's earthquake and tsunami unfolds. These events put all else in a stark perspective. My heart goes out to those experiencing this unimaginable suffering and loss. I join with others to send prayers and support to those affected.

Goofing Around With The Grands

I asked my daughter to get a photo of me with my grands during my winter visit with them. My grandson is not keen on posing for photos and started goofing around trying to get out of it.


This was before I could even get him to sit on my lap. I should have known from his antics that it wasn't going to be easy. 




She knew. This is him making faces and her with that "oh, here he goes and grandmother doesn't realize it yet" look.




Now we're all cracking up and she grabs him to get him to stop, so I hold her arm and try to convince him to sit still, which makes him clown around even more, of course.




She knows it's useless by now since I'm laughing out loud at his silly faces.




She gives me a hug to console me thinking we're not going to get the photo that day. But he, little business man that he is, asks me if I'll pay him if he smiles nicely. See those wheels turning?
"Sure," I say, "how much do you want?".




He negotiates the fee and we get this. We're all happy.



And my daughter just kept taking photos the whole time. Reminds me of photo booth photos. 
And of all the fun I had with the grands. Sigh.

09 March 2011

The Sistine Chapel

            My favorite place in my recent week in Rome: (click on the [teeny!] link at the end of this post)


Beautiful!






This virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel is incredible. Apparently
done by Villanova at the request of the Vatican, but I thought you
would enjoy the quality and a bit of Rome on your computer.






TO VIEW EVERY PART OF THE MICHAELANGELO'S MASTERPIECE JUST CLICK AND DRAG YOUR ARROW IN THE DIRECTION YOU WISH TO SEE.

In the lower left, click on the plus (+) to move closer, on the minus (-)
to move away.  Choir is thrown in for free.  Hold down the left clicker on your mouse or use yor computer's arrow buttons to rotate the picture.

AMAZING. MOVE THE ARROW AND YOU WILL SEE EVERY PART OF THE CHAPEL, INCLUDING THE CEILING.

























08 March 2011

07 March 2011

Friendship is The Wine of Life

I just had a reminder of the French saying: "L'amitie est le vin de la vie" which means "Friendship is the wine of life." Last evening, one of my neighbors, who was away, had a burst water pipe spewing water everywhere, including onto their downstair's neighbors' ceilings and walls. They, fortunately, were home and sounded the alarm for the rest of us to come help. So we did.

One neighbor shut off the water to the apartment and called the plumber (on a Sunday evening) who brought a large water vacuum and showed us how to use it. Two neighbors left a birthday party to help vacuum and mop up the water. Three other of us were on the mop and towel brigade to help get up all the standing water. We got the job done together. We've become friends in the almost two years we've lived here in our little apartment complex totaling 15 apartments in 3 buildings. We've shared food, parties and good times together. When an emergency struck, friends helped.

Friendship, like wine, sweetens life.


06 March 2011

A Hopi Elder Speaks

Things to Do from a wise elder:


A HOPI ELDER SPEAKS

"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered . . .
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader."

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, "This could be a good time!"
"There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration."

"We are the ones we've been waiting for."

-- attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder, Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona





04 March 2011

Things To Do While I'm Alive

In my birthday post on 26 January, I mentioned a self-discovery art journal inspired by my good friend, Annee. When the mood strikes me (usually 3-4 times a year), I take a few blank pages of this spiral notebook journal and pick out whatever magazine pictures or words catch my eye and put them in a current moment snapshot collage. It visually represents what's up for me. It has been a meaningful process for me for the ten or more years I've been doing it and I like to review the pages and see how they portend or document personal shifts or changes in my life. It's satisfying and fulfills my yearning to find other ways to express myself, this way through art.

Here's the cover page:




And here's a combination I put together some years ago as a self portrait. It's a combination of a Klee painting and a stone circle in Ireland. This, for some reason, speaks to places deep within me and is still accurate:



I did one in Trinidad on my birthday and then arranged it on the picnic table since I didn't have my journal with me. Now that I'm home I put the pictures into the journal today but tweaked them a bit by adding in some tickets from recent places I'd seen in Rome.

Pages 1 and 2:


Pages 3 and 4:


I'm not sure all that they indicate but they're partly to do with designing a new dream, re-innovating myself and getting back to simple things in a place that's simply spectacular. It is what's on my mind for quite awhile now come to think about it.

As I reviewed the past journal pages, here are the things listed in my illustated discovery journal over the years as things I want to do while I'm alive:


Defy

Dream

Imagine

Chime in

Have taste

Be flexible

Become quiet

Get innovative

Create sacred space

Give art the run of the house

Have a second career goal of changing society

Say "arriverderci" to average

Create domestic bliss

Serve up well being

Forge a new view

Work for legacy

Dream globally

Stay fascinated

Re-innovate

Worship

Share


They're values I resonate with, goals I think are worthy, challenges important to me to work on. And I like having a place to play with them, make art about them, keep them before my eyes and heart.

What inspires you these days?

02 March 2011

Roma

Ah Roma…



Even though I live two hours from Rome, my husband and I took a week to really have the time to walk, look, appreciate, sit, soak it up. Rome calls for that. It's hard to know where to let your eyes rest, there's so much. They'll be happy no matter where. So much beauty, art, architecture, history, ambience, good food. Everywhere.  It's a delight to the senses and the heart. The gods cooperated by providing a week of sun and temperate weather unitl the last 2 days when it was windy, cooler but still sunny. Good walking weather. And Rome is a good walking city.





The museums have audio tours available in English and I found these anywhere from quite good to outstanding. There are English speaking tour guides available and we hired one for a fun night tour of Rome and an individualized tour of the Capitol Museums. It costs more for these specialized tours but they're worth it depending on your interests, needs and budget. Our guide majored in Art History at the Sorbonne with a specialty in Italian Art. She was amazing!









The Vatican Museums ending with the Raphael Rooms and the stunning Sistine Chapel were gorgeous and diverse. From classical statuary, Renaissance paintings and Etruscan art to Egyptian artefacts, it can take all day to see or pare it down according to your interests or stamina.  The sheer abundance and extravagance is overwhelming but my favorite was the Sistine Chapel. I just sat and stared at Michalengelo's masterpieces for an hour or more. His spirit seemed immediate in these monumental works and afforded moments of inspiration in the presence of greatness.





Check out the official Vatican Museum website for a trippy look at what's there, from every angle. Go to "exhibitions" and then click on "collections online" and you can see the ravishing Rafael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel from 360 degrees. Stop at whatever you want for closer views. It gives you a flavor anyway.




There are the must sees in Rome like the Trevi Fountain and the Coloseum and some less known destinations like the delicious Giolitti gelateria with the best gelato in Rome! Walking the neighborhoods gives a good feel for their differences and is a great way to people watch to catch the unique Rome vibe.







Outside of Rome, we spent an entire day in Tivoli, a treasure of a place with three villas to amaze and delight visitors. We saw two of them, Hadrian's Villa and Villa D'Este. When I say amazing, I mean awe-inspiring, one-of-a-kind, I'm-so-glad-we-did-this amazed! Hadrian's Villa had ruins of 30 buildings spread over three miles in a beautiful countryside and called it home!  I loved meandering through all this beauty for hours. Villa D'Este was in the town of Tivoli but became it's own world behind the gates. Fountains galore was its speciality. Old town Tivoli is lovely.










One of our walking tours featured the best mosaics in Rome. This took us to three churches rich in this beautiful art. One, San Clemente, featured three levels of excavations in their basement dating back 2000 years to the first century.  The oldest section was a pagan site with intact altars and stone school benches among other artifacts.  Since this is off- peak tourist season, we got to wander around with abandon to our hearts content and just soak in the history.

To think about the decades, the centuries of people who have been here before and to be a part of this human procession over the ages was really a remarkable experience. I'll be back.