Wednesday, November 6, 2019

You Are My Sunshine ~ In Memory ☀️

after our road trip from the Cape...

I was to give Dad's eulogy.

After so many wonderful, heartfelt stories shared by my brothers, nephews and nieces, friends. My brother, Rob in his kilt, offering a kind of timeline of Dad's life adventures. Dave, laughing and weeping at the pulpit telling a travels with Dad story I'd never heard before. Pete had O Happy Day by the Edwin Hawkins Gospel Choir cued up at the end of his story. The Church of the Mountain filled with music, people swaying. 

O Happy Day! Dad loved that song. 

When it came my turn to speak, I fumbled so much with my glasses, one arm snapped off, rendering them useless, unless I wore them cockeyed on my nose. 

I can't remember having anything written down, maybe a list of ideas? 

I'm good at speaking from the heart, words usually come easily. 

But my throat stuck. 

The pews were a blur of kind faces.

I didn't say how he took us backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, or across the ocean to Scotland. I forgot to tell about the time Dad and I went out on our tiny sunfish sailboat in the Little Neck Bay and got caught up in a rough storm, the two of us shouting over the thunder at each other, We're fine, we're fine, he kept saying, as we made our way back in and the storm calmed. 

Broken glasses in hand, and so many friends and family listening intently, I didn't tell about his love of ice cream. He and I would stand in the kitchen digging for the pecans in the box of Butter Pecan. Did I tell about his writing and love of books, so many books, his penchant for hats and colorful clothes? I honestly don't have a clue what I said that day. He was a peaceful man.

Dad would say, You're beautiful. It was beautiful. I'm so grateful for all of you. 

I left out his way with an autoharp, me and my brothers singing in the living room. I left out his singing voice. Clear and booming.  

The car ride from Cape Cod with me and Dad and Claire took six hours, most of it filled with singing as we sped through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York State. On 84 East through the Pennsylvania landscape, we sang Won't You Stay in my Red River Valley, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Michael Row the Boat Ashore, and then Claire burst in from the back seat with Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood. 

Dad made himself (+ me and Claire) giddy with his radio announcer voice, 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sister Claire says Jesus Take the Wheel, why not?! Welcome to the Gospel Hour. Send in your requests, and offerings. Yes, we accept donations to keep this fine show on the road. Checks, money orders, Jesus loves you. 

How fun would it be to have your own radio show? 
But we did have it. 
Right there in the car on the highway. 
We opened our mouths and sang for miles. 

Thanks for the singing, Dad.

You Are My Sunshine 🌞

In Memory of Sunny Ellsworth Erskine Jackson, Jr.

July 5, 1926 - November 6, 2015 

xo B

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

All Her Dresses Float Up


 On the occasion of Claire's 20th Birthday πŸ‚

          Bear wears four dresses, layering one over the other, her fine silks and tulle. The purple one, her favorite, a faded cotton, is frayed at the hem. She will not let me mend it. The nightgown, a fairy blue, is flouncy and full. See how it spins, she says.
         She throws her arms out, turning in the patch of morning light catching glimpses of herself in the teapot cabinet and the glass of the fireplace doors. At three, she is small enough to make these her mirrors, no need to bend down.
         The third dress is deep blue, with straps wrapped over her shoulders. She wears it like a cape, streaming behind while she races through the kitchen. The long pink one gets tied around her waist. It has to be tight, she says, cinching it with little hands. She watches over her shoulder, as the long train of pink sweeps across the cherry floors.
         Bear wears no panties, no socks. Her pink satin slippers, trimmed in gold, scuffed and dirty around the edges slip easily onto her feet. The plastic crown rests on her round head. Quietly, she gathers up all her dresses in one hand, and dips herself into a curtsy.
         Bear and I get married, most days. She wears the dresses, pink shoes with gold trim, the crown. She is always the bride. We stand before the fireplace while I hum the wedding march. Bear watches herself in the glass, tilting her head to one side.

         We hold hands and say our vows. They are simple and easy to remember.  I promise to be kind and good. We kiss, on the hand and cheek, on the lips. We hook arms and the wedding dance begins, a kind of square dance with leaps and skips. Bear likes it best when I spin her around.  All her dresses float up around her legs.

                - from my memoir, Please No Life Stories 


Such lucky ducks. We've kept our vows. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Eddie at the Home Depot 🌻

Me and Pearly at the famous Pink's Hot Dogs in Hollywood

September 16. 2019

Dear Lovelies,

I'm thinking about the lady at Ralph's during the freakish heat wave in Los Angeles. We were standing by the broccoli crowns. I said something about how cold I get in the produce section and she said, "My people are from the Baltics. I love the cold. I cannot abide this heat."

I'm thinking about my birthday last week and all the love that flowed my way. Wow.My best friend, Pearly (aka Lisa) flew west to be with me and that was the best gift ever. We went to Pink's Hot Dog stand in Hollywood, walked a labyrinth overlooking Malibu, watched Queer Eye, Not Just A Makeover, spent a gorgeous day at the ocean. Come on.

Double Wow.

Currently, I have a car pile up of tales to tell.

I'm thinking about the things that add up to make a day, how funny and sometimes sad, and all the stuff in-between that goes on. I like lists. They're my way of tossing the dice and seeing more clearly. I'm especially fond of bullet points (option key, 8). 

 Here's today:

• I woke very early, graded two batches of my community college English class reflections - one on procrastination, anybody? The other was on the art of listening, especially as it pertains to our creative muse(s). Stop forcing, let things bubble up.

I was done by eight am.

• I pumped out twenty push-ups on the kitchen counter 2 sets of ten. I'm a candidate for some kind of boot camp, give me twenty more! I love this stuff.

• I made oatmeal with raisins for breakfast and later ended up talking about my parent's divorce (circa 1974) in my therapist's office, feeling oddly drained and surprised to be revisiting something that happened so long ago. I likened it to a house being turned upside down and all the pieces rolling down the street.

My parents brothers me the family dog 

• After looking up feeling drained from therapy and reading about emotional therapy hangovers, and taking a weird nap, I pulled my well-worn copy of Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, unopened for years, off the shelf. Somewhere in the divorce story, I veered into my writing life, telling my therapist how Sarah had written much of this book from her bed unaware that she'd end up with a gigantic bestseller. She writes in the forward that the book she started with had no resemblance whatsoever to the book she ended up with. 

There's a freeing message. Most everything unfolds in its own time and way.

Inside my copy of Simple Abundance were pieces of my past:

• A card from a friend thanking me for all our kitchen table talks. We parted ways abruptly years ago.

• A beautiful kind-of-Christmas newsletter from a wonderful artist friend

• A page torn from a Silent Unity magazine given to me by a woman at the library. I was there with my three year old Claire (now almost twenty) stacking our weekly pile of books. Edith was with her grandson. Over the course of that winter, we became Tuesday morning library companions, chatting about life, change, loss -  at some point she felt called to share this one page on Faith.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen  - Hebrews 11:1

a maple leaf

• a business card for a local California restaurant - did we go there?

a New Yorker postcard of the woman diving into a pile of leaves from my mother's best friend, Nan.

Flipping through the book I found this underlined sentence, each (painful) memory comes bearing a peace offering. There is nothing to fear. The past only asks to be remembered. 

Everything is tucked back inside to be found (again) another day.


I'm thinking about Eddie at the Home Depot. Such a friendly young man.

"I've been here for five years," he said."The first four I handled only succulents and cacti. I got stuck a lot. This year they've moved me to the flowers and chrysanthemums. It's much better."

love b

Monday, September 2, 2019

Kind and Patient

September 2. 2019

I've got stories to tell about moving across the country - it's been a year, having a piece of writing accepted and rejected in the same week, drawing snake plants over and over, and the serious nuttiness of people and their dogs here in California. You have no idea.

πŸŒ€πŸŒžStay tuned.

I keep this quote on my desk, courtesy of Tiny Buddha.

It helps to soothe any jarred up thinking I've got going on. Why would I have that? 😳

For this Labor Day, wherever you are, find some time to rest and renew.

Be kind and patient with yourself (and others).

Sending peace, lovelies.

xo b

Monday, August 12, 2019

Elizabeth Taylor Was Really Nice 🌞

August 12. 2019

I woke at four this morning, read, then willed myself back to sleep. Then I had a dream with my mother-in-law (this was a visitation as she's been gone for almost 3 years now), Elizabeth Taylor, and Claire's 12th grade lab partner, Leon.

I was traveling in Southern California with my mother-in-law, visiting her old home? while Leon, the lab partner, was a waiter, or something like that, who kindly ran off to get me a glass of water. Elizabeth Taylor, looking at the top of her game, was standing above me on the stairs assuring me with a smile that she'd have a look in her closet because she had just the right thing for me to wear.

I was barefoot, but Elizabeth didn't mention anything about shoes.

Years ago I took a dream workshop with four other participants. The deal was this: when responding to someone's dream, you were supposed to keep it focused on yourself.

Such as, If that were my dream ___________ and then you could ramble on about whatever.

It was one of those wonderful dreams where you wake up and want to go back

It was a calm friendly sweet place to be. And Elizabeth Taylor was really nice πŸŒ 

Feel free to add any interpretation in the comments below.


So there's calm and friendly, and incredibly sweet, like a smiling baby, but there's also mass shootings. These things dwell in the same universe. Everything does. This messes with my head and heart. Mass shootings last week, not one but two, and all the ones that came before, are lodged in my body. There are the families whose lives are radically altered in an instant and how life still goes on after these horrific things. People march and pray and go food shopping and take out the garbage and vow to make changes while the NRA blames people with mental illness + there's photos of Crazy giving a thumbs up while blink twice Melania, holds an orphaned infant in El Paso.

I'm the baby bird on the ledge. Fly? Hunker down? Get back to the nest?

I invite you to:

Pick one person and send them a note, preferably snail mail, but if you can't get that far, write a peace email, text, leave a peace voice mail. My brother, Rob, is one of the last humans who regularly sends notes through the mail. The one above was a simple note, three words. As soon as I opened it, I felt washed in love and peace. Thank you, Bertie.

Today I am Sending You Peace xo b

pass it on 🌻

      Love, Bennett 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Dad Liked To Say πŸŒ€

June 17. 2019

Yesterday I woke lighthearted, even though it was Father's Day and I've been missing my Dad more poignantly lately. Seems the longer he's been gone, the more deep the loss feels. Still, I wasn't sad. Claire and Michael had gone off snorkeling on a Father's Day adventure and I was home alone with Chewy, the big-eared dog. It was a dog-walking, reading, call best friend, make a nice meal day.

This morning I woke to a low spirit, worry mind, some sadness. This isn't the most unusual thing but I've been feeling better lately, paying attention to the worry mice and mood dips that move in without invitation. Some days, they swoop in like the noisy, slightly aggressive, Northern Mockingbirds that have claimed our little yard. Lately, they've been sitting in the trees squawking and flicking their tail feathers, dive bombing squirrels and Chewy too.

My initial response to lowness is do something, get moving, get going, anything to shoo the squawkers out of the head, to feel happy, lighter, at least not so low. But I imagined my Dad was here, sitting in the green chair next to me, sipping a cup of tea with a fat dollop of honey - he had a sweet tooth, he'd say, This happens. Watch it all, like clouds. Laugh at yourself.

It doesn't matter how old I get, there's a deep longing to hear the loving advice of a parent. The miracle is, I can still conjure his voice, his ever warm kindness towards me. 

All the ways he lifted me up, comforted. 

Dad liked to say, gentle on the mental. 
Dad liked to say,  Go easy, hon. 
Dad liked to say, 

xo b

Monday, June 10, 2019

Mrs. Aiosa πŸŒ€

June 10. 2019

From P. 6 of my little book on writing:

Begin a piece with "I'll start here."

I'll start here with my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Aiosa, and the way her glossy black hair curled over the tops of her shoulders. The way the snowy white flakes of dandruff stuck to her dark clothes. I want to write about her smile, the gap between her two front teeth, the way she taught us French, writing out long white sentences in elegant cursive on the blackboard. 

Mrs. Aiosa is one of the reasons I'm a many book reports, stories, poems, and projects I happily did in her classroom at PS. 98 in Douglaston, New York. Fourth grade. Those were the days. I'm no Mrs. Aiosa, but I have a way of helping the shyest writer come out to play, relax, write.

I'm coming east this summer, kicking off July with a mini-writing retreat. Come play in PA!

xo b

Scratching on Paper: A (Lovely) Writing Workshop
                    w/ Betsy Jackson

All you need is a desire to spend time with yourself + a notebook and pen.

Join Betsy Jackson, writing whisperer, beloved teacher for this creative, heart-opening mini-retreat: tranquil setting, wine, cheese, a sunset, other nice people. Together we will write, share (only if you want), and listen. Get curious about (+ free) the voice(s) inside you longing to be heard. Here’s the thing: Writing inspires, heals, relieves nuttiness, makes your chakras spin in the right direction – all that - so gift yourself (and a friend). Lighten your spirit. πŸŒ€ No experience necessary. No kidding.

• When: Monday, July 1. 2019
• Time:  6:00 – 8:00 pm
• Place:  Delaware Water Gap, PA
• Cost:  $45 (pre-register by June 29. 2019)

For registration info + directions:
contact Betsy @

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