A Simpler Love

A favorite poem by Billy Collins, one of America’s poet laureates. 

Aimless Love

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

~ Billy Collins

Posted in autumn, beauty, emotions, human interest, love, nature, poetry, psychology, relationships, romance, spirituality | 2 Comments

Cricket Haiku (almost)

Good evening, crickets,
little pinpricks of sound in the night.
My meditation partners.

Posted in beauty, Christianity, emotions, human interest, love, nature, poetry, religion, spirituality | 1 Comment

Book Review: “Tattoos on the Heart”

A kid walks into the office of Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, in the heart of LA’s gang district. He’s fresh from prison. Tattooed from ear to ear with his forehead emblazoned with, “F**k the World,” he leans across the desk from Father Greg and says, “I’m having trouble finding a job.” No duh… Father Greg sends him straight to Homeboy Industries tattoo removal shop, then to Homeboy Bakery.  For a fresh start.

This is a story about love. But don’t let the title fool you, there’s nothing sentimental or sappy or pious about this kind of love.  It’s tough yet tender, like the hearts of the kids Father Boyle works with. He knows the macho, swaggering act they have to put on,  growing up with poverty and violence, drugs, neglect, abuse, despair.  And yet, sometimes, he’s able to penetrate that hard shell, touch the vulnerable kid underneath who just wants a chance at life. A “normal” life. Continue reading

Posted in adolescence, books, Christianity, death, emotions, evil, father, human interest, love, mother, psychology, relationships, religion, spirituality, trauma, Valentines day, women | 3 Comments

The Beat Goes On!

I’ve been in a slump for months!  A nasty rut filled with one challenge after another. The flu from hell, a hurricane, a boyfriend break-up, an auto accident,  a hurried-up car search,  a blankety-blank  auto insurance company that made my life a living hell. You get the picture – I was  transformed from a fairly pleasant person to a snarling junkyard dog!

But that was then and this is now.  I’m well now, dodged the hurricane, mostly over the break-up and I’ve found a way to cope with the insurance company without frothing at the mouth. The first thing I did as soon as I climbed halfway out of the pit was get myself back to the gym–after almost a year away. Time for a comeback.

And so, after a few lively sessions of Senior Dance at the YMCA I’m a new woman!!  Make no mistake, “senior” dance may be scaled down a little for us lower-impact ladies, but it’s still a kick-ass workout. And the bee-bop is straight from our era – the swingin’ sixties!

I didn’t realize how much I was missing FUN.  And let me tell you, dancing is fun! I feel like a go-go girl, a belly dancer, a salsa queen and a NYC rockette all rolled into one when that music starts pounding.  Arm-flinging, feet-kicking, hip-gyrating, whirling, twirling FUN.

So now, when I have to talk to that blankety-blank insurance company, I will keep my composure, and if I feel the steam in the pressure cooker starting to build up, I’ll hop in my new car and go strut my stuff on the YMCA dance floor for an hour of unmitigated, sweat-slinging,  heart-pumping FUN!

Posted in beauty, dance, emotions, fitness, health, human interest, humor, music, psychology, relationships, senior citizens, spirituality, women | 1 Comment

Baby Love

I gave my new baby her first bath today. I think she enjoyed it. She’s pure as the driven snow, without a blemish on her. Pearly white like a moon flower,  and if you look real close you can see little metallic sparkles through and through. I haven’t named her yet. Mulling it over. Something classy I think.

She has a moon roof. Not a sun roof. Moon roof – more elegant.  I have a feeling she’s going to be high maintenance, and deservedly so. Lots of high-class bells and whistles that I’m hoping will keep us out of trouble.

If she does her part, I’ll do mine and wash her at least once a month, including her feet, (cleaning between the toes, er… spokes, of the hubcap is very important), with a hose-down every week-end.  And maybe even a wax job once a year on her birthday, December 29th. She was a year-end special.

No harsh automatic car washes for this girl – she needs a personal touch. I went tenderly over all her curves, rubbing gently on a few little stubborn spots, getting into all the nooks and crannies, polishing, vacuuming, spraying, wiping.

She shines like the  sexy little princess she is right now, and I’ll be heartbroken when she gets her first ding, but I’ll take good care of her even after the honeymoon’s over and, with any luck, we’ll  ride into the sunset together. Both of us growing old– as gracefully as we can. But we’ve got some miles to cover first!

The author with her new Subaru Impreza

Posted in beauty, cars, emotions, human interest, humor, love, poetry, psychology, relationships, romance, senior citizens, spirituality, women | 4 Comments

Stoned on Beauty

I saw something intoxicatingly beautiful recently and it reminded me of a book I read years ago.  An old-timey book written in flowery language in the 1800s. The story is a memoir about the author as a young girl living on an island off the coast of Maine. Her father was the lighthouse keeper.

She paints a picture of stark beauty, craggy, with little mosses and tidal pools and primroses that cover the crags with dainty riots of color in the spring. And raging storms that threaten to tear the world to shreds. The rocks and tidal pools are her playground. The wind and seabirds her constant companions.

There’s this one scene in which she describes the sky at sunset after a storm.  The clouds were straight across at the bottom, a deep steely gray shelf across the top half of the sky.  At one end the shelf was turned up, exposing a corner of sunset that was so brilliant, so vivid in its magnificence that she had to turn away because it was more beauty than she could hold. Her senses couldn’t handle that much glory.

The book is Celia Thaxter’s “Among the Isles of Shoals.”

Posted in beauty, books, emotions, human interest, love, nature, poetry, psychology, relationships, seashore, spirituality | 2 Comments

The Joke’s on Me

So I’m sitting down to meditate, and as is sometimes the case, being still brings up emotions that I’m too distracted to deal with when I’m busy.  If it’s really bad, I defer the meditation for a few minutes, and talk to the Universe. God, Spirit, Cosmos. Whoever or Whatever’s listening.

This morning I let the Universe have it between the eyes. No holds barred. I had complaints.  Justifiable complaints. Complaints about unfairness, about things in my life that are NOT going according to plan. Things that are a great annoyance, inconvenience and downright WRONG. Things that I don’t have a f***ng clue how to deal with.  Things that make me feel helpless. I was wound up!

As I was almost at the end of my diatribe, I heard some sand hill cranes in flight squawking their heads off. They have a honking squawk you can hear a mile away.

It made me laugh out loud!  I had a sneaking suspicion those cranes were the Universe’s humorous way of telling me how I sounded. Squawk squawk squawk.  Anyway, I felt better after squawking and got on with my meditating.


Posted in birds, emotions, human interest, humor, nature, poetry, psychology, spirituality | 7 Comments

A Brand New Year

Four faithful seasons equal a year,
one revolution of the heavenly sphere.
We mark our progress by the sun,
one trip around–another year done.

Round ‘n round–the world, she spins…
(as we humans tally our losses and wins)
keeping time to a music her Maker composed,
knowing nothing of all the commotion imposed

as we rush around tending our daily affairs,
stuffing our lives into calendar squares.
One trip around in her heavenly dance
and her tenants are given another chance.

Posted in beauty, Christmas, emotions, human interest, nature, New Year, poetry, psychology, science, spirituality | 4 Comments

A Christmas Ornament

It’s December 1993. My dad’s in the hospital. His cancer’s returned. It’s not looking good for him. I’m at home decorating my Christmas tree. I placed all the ornaments on the branches just so, each one reminding me of something or someone. A kindergartner’s gold cardboard star embellished with uncooked elbow macaroni (who knew), a baker-girl with red hair holding a rolling pin from my mom, Baby’s First Christmas. Lots of memories.

But what I didn’t have was an ornament from my dad. I wanted him to be represented on my tree.  This might be his last Christmas. But he was in no shape to go shopping for a Christmas ornament for his oldest daughter now. Too late for that.

I went to see him in the hospital later that day and I think I told him I wished I had an ornament from him for my tree. Maybe not. It was a long time ago. Pretty sure I did.

Anyway, a nurse or someone popped into his room distributing gift-wrapped packages. “Merry Christmas!” she chirped before popping back out. “You take this, honey,” said dad, handing me the gift. “I don’t need anything.”  It was round like a popcorn ball, wrapped first in a layer of tissue paper, then shiny plastic wrap secured with a little red bow. Nothing special.

I kissed my dad good-bye and headed home. That evening I got hungry and decided to eat the popcorn ball. I untied the little bow and unwrapped the flimsy paper, ready to crunch into it.

It wasn’t a popcorn ball…

It was a small, plump, gold-sprayed pine cone with two perfect little magenta berries sitting on top, the whole shebang hung from a gold string. It was beyond beautiful.  An ornament from my dad.

Did the Universe conspire to get me my wished-for ornament, or was it pure coincidence? Who knows? All I know is it feels real good to see it on my Christmas tree every year.

Posted in Christmas, death, emotions, family, father, human interest, love, mother, nostalgia, poetry, psychology, relationships, sadness, senior citizens, spirituality, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Six on a Bench

A time-blurred photo, crimped edges, c. 1957
thumb-tacked to a bulletin board.
Six children sitting rag-tag on a bench–
one skinny boy in glasses, pony-tailed me,
four stair-step girls, my little sister off to herself on the
end with eyes cutting left  (keeping a wary eye on a
bee, she told me 50 years later).

We were at a park called Fairyland,
mouths contorted around frozen sno-cones,
crushed-ice balls packed into paper cones,
drenched in sugary syrup in every
color of the rainbow. Your pick.
Mouths careful to catch every sticky drop.
A moment in time as frozen as the sno-cones.

Posted in children, emotions, human interest, nostalgia, poetry, Uncategorized | 4 Comments