15 December 2012

Holiday Travel

Tomorrow I leave with my Honey for Trinidad's Rain Forest where my daughter, her husband and our two grands live. I'll be there for Christmas, New Years and the worst part of the winter. I know, I'm spoiled.  I'm yearning to be with family, have time to play and hike to beautiful places, celebrate my birthday, go to the grands' gymnastic classes, see movies in English, play scrabble with my daughter, maybe even do some art with my friend, Bunty, and enjoy life. Oh, and train for a relay race (my section is 6 1/2 miles) with other family members as part of the National Marathon to End Breast Cancer in Jacksonville, FL in February. I've run the marathon, two half- marathons and now the relay  to celebrate my niece's wedding that weekend. It's "our" event as a family since losing my Honey's sister, Peg, to breast cancer in 2007. Her loss and my desire to do something about it sparked my running.

A downside is having only dial up access to the internet which makes blogging difficult (at best). Remember the days of dial up? UGH! There will be occasional visits to high speed land, so I'll keep in touch and share what I can as I'm able.

In the meanwhile, Happy Holidays to all. Enjoy your family, your spouse, and your life to the fullest. Let each person you love know it. Grandmothers, keep your eyes open for the depressed, angry young adolescents and see that they get help. They have a hard time asking for it or admitting to depression and if they don't get it they can distort reality to be something worth destroying. In these days of mental health cutbacks we must acknowledge that people who need help and don't get it can take it out on themselves or others. Both are too costly. Treatment saves lives. Let's do this.

14 December 2012

55 With The Lumineers - Ho Hey

Just this -
a fun tune, a good message:
'I belong with you. You belong with me.
You're my sweetheart.'
That's all. And a catchy beat.
And a sky full of colored confetti.
Friends celebrate. Did you know confetti
comes from Italy? But here it's candy
over almonds. Sweet. Given at weddings.
Belongs there. With sweethearts.

A simple ditty for Friday Flash 55 for the G-Man.

12 December 2012


She shuffles by lost
in the fog of mental illness,
mute, unreachable.
I make nursing rounds,
hum some old tune. She
turns, follows me, hums
the same song.
Across her chasm
of neural chaos,

The prompt from Fireblossom over at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads was to write about calamities and from my 36 years as a psychiatric nurse, there is no calamity that touches my heart more than major mental illness. This is a true story of a client with schizophrenia in a state hospital in California who had been mute for years. I was humming a song my father used to sing and she hummed along. So I started singing the songs I remembered from him and she sang along. She had a beautiful voice. Eventually we learned she was a singer with Benny Goodman in the mid 30's. She loved to sing. I offer it on dVerse poets open link night as well.

07 December 2012

Friday 55 - Ordinary Weeks

Big week- my daughter's birthday,
discovered six- word stories,
mountain snow fell and
our town lit its Christmas tree
in the main square.

Every week is like this-
ordinary things, newly
discovered, light my world.
Ordinary weeks, well lived,
bring light to our world.

Have an ordinary weekend,
live it well, bring even more light.

This is a Friday 55 for the G-Man. Check him out- join the fun.

06 December 2012

Six-Word Stories For Kelly

think your
thoughts. Me mine."

I'm outnumbered
by this one.

me words."
Hungry for words.

card reported:
a social butterfly.

version: "I
know that stuff."

but tried
all sports possible.

with the
big girls. Friends.

found ecology,
never looked back.

semester, mind-
expander, life- changer.

rain forest,
and then Carl.

follows deeper
rhythms, pays attention.

children adore
her. Why not?

Today is my daughter's birthday. Continuing with the six-word stories, these are about her at various stages of life starting at age three when after an argument with me she announced, hands on hips: "You think your thoughts and I'll think mine." I knew I was in trouble! I enjoyed the process of trying to distil a few of her stories into their essentials. Happy Birthday, Kelly. I love and admire you. I'm glad you were born.

04 December 2012

Six-Word Stories

Can these be responses to a prompt at dVerse Poets Pub on open link night for poetry? They're only six words each but they each tell a story.

first, poet,
writer after retirement.

car, blind
curve took all.

years but
loves sexy undies.

sneer tells
all, leave now.

behind, her
too little self.

married, she
loves him newly.

they're all
he relates to.

These were indeed inspired by Karin at ManicDDaily who was herself inspired by Luke at Word Salad: The Poetry of Luke Prater who has a great article on micro-fiction six-word stories. I was familiar with the six-word memoir project and wrote one a couple of years ago: Life, my ancestor-in-training course. Luke put his in the above format to be more like poems. It's fun, try it out.

02 December 2012

Long Partnerships - Erasure Poetry

From: The Last Gift of Time by Carolyn G. Heilbrun

Long partnerships are rare, endow
inhabitants with equilibrium
otherwise unknown.
A woman, her spouse
cherished, endured.

This moment, at last, overshadows
resentments, betrayals, boredom,
disallows a sin of omission to serve
as mental magnet.

Memory and anger recede,
dissipate. Life in the moment
no longer expects what will never occur,
expects neither more nor less
than who he is.

Marrieds of many decades earn,
as reward, mutual mellowness,
find life good.

This was actually sparked by Mary's prompt on Friday: Connection over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads and a continuation of Anna's Erasure Poetry from dVerse Poets Pub. Their current prompt is from Stuart: Missing You. Since I have the good fortune to be in a marriage of 39 years with my Honey, I erased all of the last chapter in The Last Gift of Time except the above as a hymn of praise to long relationships. And on the theme of missing, it expresses why I miss my Honey when he's away.

30 November 2012

Erasure Poetry- The Hawkesbury

It was a sweet thing of a still morning,
river-oaks whispering, white birds
roosting in the trees like so much washing.

The land stood upside down in dimply green water,
a shiny morning, the river with a brush of wind
that sent handfuls of sparkles across the water.

Boats sliding up fast if tide was with them
to the reedy place where the First Branch
wound down among the hills.

That country was full of overhangs
where soft yellow rock big enough
to stand in were full of light the color of honey.

You could sit there and watch the breeze
shivering through the leaves, the river beyond
a band of color like a muscle.

When you sit in the rock the bush sounds
come to you sharper, like a big ear, listening.
The birds were company enough.

Taken from the book I just finished reading, Sarah Thornhill, by Kate Grenville by erasing all but the above from the first chapter and rearranging the order. It's a harshly beautiful book that often reads like poetry of a girl coming of age in Australia. This Erasure Poetry, a form of found poetry, is a prompt from Anna at dVerse Poets Pub for Meeting the Bar. She lists some fascinating examples so check it out.

25 November 2012

Preparation No More - a Limerick

All my life up to now I prepared
made damn sure nothing was spared
- retired now and will confess
do what I want and I bless
that I thrive on not having to care.

On reading one of Hedgewitch's recent stunning poems, Mama Zen, in awe, commented: Dang, doesn't anyone write limericks any more? So, here's a limerick in response to the prompt at dVerse Poet's Pub by Mary for Poetics: Preparation is Key. Mary wrote a great article for the prompt but sparked my irreverent thought on the matter. Check them out, there is some good poetry going on over there.

23 November 2012

Sack Races

Remember the day we
raced in bags, tripped
constantly as we
tried to hold hands?
The bags stamped patterns
on our skin when we hit ground.
Do children still jump in sacks,
hold hands against the solitary
stance they somehow know?
Do they still search patterns on their
skin as if maps to the future?

This is posted in response to the prompt by Laurie on 'Burlap' and Patterns over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads and is 55 words for the g-man for Friday Flash 55.
The photo is from Your Dictionary Images.

22 November 2012

This is How I Will Remember You

This is how I will remember you,
how I will recall you when I must someday,
astride the chair, ruddy cheeked. It's just this moment,
not another, that will echo you forever. You
know my spine stiffens when angry, fends you off,
so you reached out and touched my cheek. Just that. Knowing
gleaned from years together, decanted from our every day, suffused
in your bones with tenderness. That encrypted gesture,
vaulted past refusal, brought me you, not chined as
I expected, but tiptoed touch forged with covenant to
nudge memory of all we have and who we are. I
grieve my lack of heed, seek to encode that touch forever.

22 November 2012

This is in response to Sam's prompt for a Thanksgiving acrostic over at dVerse Poets Pub. He posted his wonderful memory/poem there as well. Because my Honey is in London, I miss him and realize the great gratitude I hold for the gift of him in my life. Happy Thanksgiving.

20 November 2012

Sing I Must in Thanks

Sing I Must in Thanks

As I have all I want and more, sing
I 'thanks' with full heart and strong voice
to all who fill my heart, and then, sing
again, blare voice, and join thy voice
as we share and sing, record all sound
of thanks to trumpet 'round the world, rejoice
that we share, rejoice, make joyful sound,
bare hearts as one, bare souls as we rejoice.

20 November 2012

This is posted for Open Link Monday at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads but is a form described in their previous Sunday mini-challenge. It's an eight line innovation by William Butler Yeats with specific prescriptions regarding repetition of end words and repeats of those words within lines of the poem. If you click on this link and go to "older post" you can read all about it and read some great examples.

It is also linked to dVerse Poets since this is Open Link Night hosted by the ever generous Brian Miller. Check it out and you'll meet some very talented poets.

It took me a while to finish but I hoped to have it as a poem for Thanksgiving. So here it is with my gratitude to my friends in the blogospere. Thanks for your inspiration, your conversation and for sharing your voices, yourselves with me. It's an important thing we do. My life, indeed the world, is richer for it.

18 November 2012

November Weekend Update

How we do November here in Italy- the bougainvillea keeps blooming, the begonia which I cut back has sprung forward again and I replaced the fall decor with the winter decor despite all this and then celebrated the change by having friends over for dinner. The moon eclipsed, the air is slightly colder at night which makes it nice for running in the morning, the last of our hot peppers have been harvested.

We're back with our splendid Italian tutor after a break while traveling and today I read an article in Italian and summarized it. The article described a French movie, Amour, which tells the story of a couple in their 80s and their struggles as the wife has a series of strokes and develops dementia, won at the Cannes Film Festival and is now on my must see list. Check it out.

Finally, I'm reading a wonderful book by Carolyn G. Heilbrun- The Last Gift of Time, Life Beyond Sixty. I somehow missed it up to now although it was published in 1997. It's one of those books that I can't wait to open in the morning and then re-read passages because of the sheer pleasure of how she writes. Is there anything lovelier than good writing?  She gives her perspective as a woman in her 70s  on aging and its rewards. Gorgeous, grown up stuff.

This morning it started to rain. The chives caught the first drops.

16 November 2012


From "Digging"

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
from "Digging", Death of a Naturalist (1966)
Seamus Heaney


My cousin digs turf still,
west of Ireland, County Clare. 
Bog sits behind his house, gives
earth cut from ground for fuel.

Bog soil rich in humus, formed
by trees long gone, held
together by roots now recomposed
to offer heat and light.

He's a farmer, my cousin,
cuts turf with other farmers
in Lissycasey, tasked together
by this ancient pledge against the cold.

I farm different ground.
My bones conspire to write 
these poems, demand I provide 
muscle and heart to offer heat and light.

Mary H. Warren

This is offered for dVerse Poet's Pub hosted by Victoria Slotto who encouraged us to write inspired by a favorite poet in her article on literary allusion. Two of my favorite Irish poets are Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland. The photo is mine taken after my Honey's cousin, Aiden, cut turf and set it to dry on one of our many visits to Ireland.

14 November 2012

How To Make a Proper Cup of Tea

We could learn to stop when the sun goes down and when the sun comes up. We could learn to listen to the wind; we could learn to notice that it’s raining or snowing or hailing or calm. We could reconnect with the weather that is ourselves, and we could realize that it’s sad. The sadder it is, and the vaster it is, the more our heart opens. We can stop thinking that good practice is when it’s smooth and calm, and bad practice is when it’s rough and dark. If we can hold it all in our hearts, then we can make a proper cup of tea.
- Pema Chodron

My friend, Erin, over at In Search of White Space has been delving deeply and stirring up questions of who I am and why I'm here and what life is really about. When I read the above quote today from Pema Chodron I felt a click inside, a deep 'yes' that attention to what is, and holding it in my heart without judgement of good or bad is my way forward. Then I re-saw the photos of my grandchildren with their knowing of that truth. I made myself a cup of tea. 

10 November 2012

History is Made - the New Democratic Caucus

I feel happy about this and proud to be a small part of this important result. It may be a form letter but look at the sentence in bold print. Just look. The future is here, at least in the Democratic Party. Brings  new meaning to representative democracy. It makes it real at last, almost. How about a time when the entire congress is this representative? Of us. All of us. Together. As the grandmother of bi-racial, bi-cultural grandchildren I welcome this, feel grateful and giddy about this. As my grandson, then age 6 said at Obama's first election: "He's just like me!"

Letter received from Nancy Pelosi:

Mary --

I wanted to say thank you for your support and enthusiasm.

Republicans had promised to make double-digit gains. Instead, we picked up at least 7 seats and were able to roll back the Tea Party wave.

Next week we will welcome a new Democratic Caucus where -- for the first time in Congressional history -- the majority will be women and minorities. We expect to have 61 women, 43 African Americans, 27 Hispanics, 10 Asian Americans and 6 LGBT Americans in our Caucus.

Our larger, more diverse Caucus -- at least 200 Members strong -- will play a greater role in support of President Obama and our colleagues in the Senate. We pledge to work alongside the President and stand ready to work across the aisle to move our nation forward and address the American people’s top priorities: creating jobs, growing the economy, strengthening the middle class and protecting Medicare.

We remain focused on reigniting the American Dream, building ladders of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, take responsibility and play by the rules.

Thank you again for your tremendous support.


08 November 2012

The Castle of Dromore - A Lullaby

Often when I read Ruth's blog, Washed Stones, I am inspired. Today in reading "November Honors- a Lullaby" I thought of an old Irish lullaby called "The Castle of Dromore" or "The October Winds". This one is sung by Maureen Hegarty. Maybe it's just me but a lullaby for us all at this time seems right. The relief of the election being decided to move us forward, not backward. The enormity of the task before us in rebuilding our Nation's coalition, which is like a new born in some ways and calls me to sing soothing encouragement. Maybe it's just that my neighbor's daughter had her first child last night and I'm filled with the fragile - miracle awe that new life inspires. Either way, I offer it for you to enjoy and hum along because sometimes we all just need a lullaby.


The Castle of Dromore 

The October winds lament
Around the Castle of Dromore,
Yet peace is in its lofty halls,
My loving treasure store.
Though autumn leaves may droop and die
A bud of spring are you.
Sing hush-a-bye loo, la loo, lo lan,
Sing hush-a-bye loo, la lo.

Bring no ill winds to hinder us,
My helpless babe and me,
Dread spirit of Blackwater banks,
Clan Owen's wild banshee.
And Holy Mary pitying us
In heav'n for grace doth sue.

Sing hush-a-bye loo, la loo, lo lan,
Sing hush-a-bye loo, la lo.

Take time to thrive, my rose of hope,
In the garden of Dromore.
Take heed, young eagle, till your wings
Are feathered fit to soar.
A little rest and then the world
Is full of work to do. 

Sing hush-a-bye loo, la loo, lo lan,
Sing hush-a-bye loo, la lo.

05 November 2012

Colors on Charred Walls

Sunset colors caught on charred walls
counter destruction caused by fire
which licked roof until gone, took all contents
to ash, obliterated collections that marked
history hard fought, savage in its greed,
even consumed tree leaves, this
consumate devourer. Family stood and
stared, imagined causes, calculated
incalculable losses. Then came the colors
reflected in water soaked walls, rainbow colors
marked the promise of covenant but cruel in its contrast
to now; vivid, mesmerizing, surreal catch of color.

This is in response to a prompt from prolific commenter, Brian Miller, over at dVerse Poets who wrote about Poetics: Through the Artist's Lens. The artist is SueAnn of SueAnn's Journey and it's her art above. Check out her other provocative pieces.nAlso posed for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads on Open Link Monday. Join in.

Combing Olive Trees Branch by Branch

Fall brings  a favorite opportunity in our olive rich area - harvesting olives the old fashioned way by combing branch after branch of our friend's olive trees. She has few enough trees to do it this way rather than the more mechanized version used by larger places. What a wonderful way to spend a day with friends.

My friend Sheila's trees were laden this year, ready to be swept into the nets below. Yesterday was in the high 60's with intermittent sun, the three dogs were bounding around begging someone to throw a stick for them to fetch and six of us were eager to engage in the ancient, almost meditative practice of harvesting olives.

A view from the olive grove located about 40 minutes from my house and closer to the mountains.

Sheila prepared a delicious, home cooked feast for the workers. We ate, chatted and shared snippets of our lives in Italy, rich with new-for-us experiences that endear us to this land, this place.

After pressing, each couple's reward is five liters of olive oil. I'm sure it enhances the heart benefits of olive oil to have combed the trees branch by branch and harvested the olives with our own hands.

Sheila has a couple of trees with eating olives rather than those meant to be crushed for oil. The green olives from Abruzzo, our area of Italy, are scrumptious and rated highly nationally.

Olive oil is used in products as well. Soap, of course, but also shampoo, body wash and lotion. My skin and hair love them.

It's hard to overestimate the value of slow, simple, earth based activities further connecting me to all that is- the trees, the sun, the earth, fresh air, fresh food, friends, easy banter, play with a dog, being a part of the cycle of that which feeds me. I'm grateful.

03 November 2012

UFO's and iPad Keyboards

In the view from my balcony, the UFO cloud, previously documented on September 25's blog post, appeared again this evening (which is coming entirely too early since going off daylight savings). It seemed to swoop in leaving that visible path and feathery accompaniments. No aliens were seen emerging.

And in other news of the day, behold the new, full sized, regular keyboard for my iPad.

The iPad sits in a channel and is magnetized to hold well.

The keyboard is bluetooth enabled, made by Logitech and becomes the cover for the iPad with a magnetized strip along one side (shown on the left) once the iPad is removed from the channel.

This is the super slim width when closed. It works like a charm, makes typing easier and I give it two thumbs up as a must have item for iPad owner writers.

01 November 2012

Back Home

I arrived home with my Honey after a long diversion from Ohio to Boston through Toronto to Rome. It was difficult to sleep with images of superstorm Sandy vivid in my mind but, other than that, all is well. We arrived to temps in the low 70's and bright sun turning to a sky full of clouds catching sunset colors this evening. It feels so good to be home, in my own comfortable apartment, greeted warmly by my neighbors, checked up on by friends on the phone. Clothes are unpacked, the first load of wash is in, my Honey made a simple but delicious dinner, the photos are downloaded awaiting editing and we took time out to sip a drink together on the balcony watching the sunset. Ahh, life is good, I'm grateful. I pray for those without simple creature comforts tonight that they may know them again soon for they sustain us.

While I was gone, the bougainvillea flowered:

The coleus filled out:

This sky greeted us:

And turned into a Monet painting as the sun set:

The inconvenience of two days delay in our return home seems slight indeed.

29 October 2012

How a Woman Living in Italy Lands in the Storm of the Century in the States

It was just a two week vacation with my Honey to see family and friends in the states ending with my niece's wedding in Ohio. Our departure date, though, coincided with hurricane Sandy, which morphed into superstorm Sandy, smashing the east coast, including our port of exit, Boston. Which means that I'm writing this from an airport hotel in Columbus, Ohio after our flights were cancelled and rescheduled for two days from now providing Boston's Logan Airport is up and running by then. Our flights were among about 11,000 flights that were cancelled. Do you know how many other travelers were attempting to change to alternate routes to miss the 1,000 mile wide storm? Too many, as it turns out.

All other family members made it out (most driving) so I have a stretch of two days to catch up with all the things I've neglected while devoting myself whole- heartedly to visiting. I want to figure out a way to blog and travel/visit at the same time. I miss my blogosphere friends when I'm gone. The TV coverage of the storm is enough to scare the wits out of any watcher that has family or friends in harm's way. Columbus is on the outer edge of this massive storm and still we have rain, cold, winds and emergency contingencies at the ready, but it's the population dense east coast that is feeling the brunt of it. Heart- felt prayers to them.

My Honey started with a cold last night and felt it full- fledged today so he's in bed and I'm out doing email, facebook, blogging, reading, organizing my vacation photos and using the fitness center since I can't go outdoors. With no distractions, it's rather enjoyable. Another advantage of retirement- the ability to roll with what is. I've even played Words-With-Friends real time with my daughter and a friend, got myself caught up with DragonVale as well and made myself some new (young) friends along the way to share DV gems and strategies with. What a fun game with ever- evolving features to keep loyalists like me happy.

Fall in New England, celebrating my father's 96th birthday, seeing friends from where I used to live in Maine, touching base and catching up with old, dear friends, conducting our 9th annual gathering of the women in my family, alone time (four days!) for the first time in ten years to talk with my daughter, and attending my youngest brother's youngest daughter's wedding stand as high points of the trip up to this latest experience of nature's power shared by many millions of my Country people. It's been a rich vacation.

01 October 2012

The Luncheon

I went to a luncheon given by my friends Marcello and Roberto with my Honey and our next door neighbors and first friends in Italy, Emily and Enzo. I share two photos so you can smile as we did, be delighted as we were.  Roberto fashioned ladybugs from cherry tomatoes and olive pieces for the appetizer course and dolphins from bananas and grapes for the fruit course; our appetites were sparked by the symmetrical beauty of the food and our surprised delight at a friend's efforts on our behalf.

It gives you a sense of why I love living here. Imagine this thoughtful, delightful, creative touch to a simple luncheon with friends? Add in the conversation, the day temperate enough to be enjoyed outdoors and the sheer good will of building relationships across language and cultural boundaries and it defines more than anything else "la dolce vita" for me. Sweet indeed.

28 September 2012


Gargoyles watch throughout
the town, sneer, leer, stare
down as she hurries about.
She collects all she needs
for potions sought by desperate
friends: herbs, bark of tree, seeds,
grasses from dark spaces, essence of flowers,
things found on forest floor to sound of crow.
She assembles attentive to moon's phase,
boils while humming old phrases
passed from grandmother's grand-
mother, ancient knowledge held in spare
words said with right intention. Add the care
of friend for friend when fashioned
and the faith in efficacy.
Some call it witchcraft
but it's simply magic.

This is in response to Fireblossom Friday over at Real Garden with Real Toads who asks us if we believe in magic. Check out some of the eerie answers.

26 September 2012


"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. "Coco Chanel

I thought I would teach 
fashion to my granddaughter, age 5.
We went shopping at her request. 'Look
grandmother, I like those colors
together, and they're sparkly.'  

'You like sparkly?' I asked. 
'Sparkly is fun because
it makes me feel happy. 
And, when colors are all together, 
they look like flowers.'

I decided I'm the one to learn and she's my fashion teacher. 

This is posted in response to Ella's prompt over at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads regarding Coco Chanel's quote above on fashion. It reminded me of an incident that happened last year with my granddaughter. And for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub hosted by Natasha Head who generously admonishes us to encourage one another's poetry.
(the photo is the desk where my granddaughter, now six, designs her fashion creations)

County Clare, Ireland Photos

Found while hill walking:

At a garden center, these made me laugh:

Irish sunset over the sea bid us a fond farewell: