Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Follow Your Weird

Claire said, "When I grow up I want to be myself."

What a fantastic career choice! When I was in 5th grade it was all about being a teacher, or accountant, or astronaut. You had to pick something, then become it. This is my wish for my daughter, Claire, as she begins a new school year in 5th grade. I wish this for Jesse and Elizabeth, & myself, and you...

Why wait? Be yourself now.

Don't pay no mind about what other people are doing, or saying...unless they're being mean to someone, then step in, speak up. Otherwise, trust yourself. Make your own way. Follow your own path.

Dad likes to say, follow your weird. (And trust me, he's done plenty of that.) But I know he's onto something. No matter how old we are, it seems we have a need to fit in. But where?

How about your own skin?

be yourself.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shared Blessings

Go ahead, call me the Turkey Lady. They keep showing up. Like family.

So, I don't know what Owen was thinking when this pair strolled by the back door. He watched them crisscrossing in the grass, which way should we go, looked at me once, then laid his head back down on his front paws. (There were babies out there too!)

ps. The weather's been heavenly here in Northeast PA; we've been watching birds, eating ice cream, swimming in the river; soaking up this late August magic. We have *not been shoveling truck loads of stone. Amen.

Here's to the magic of shared blessings.

TURKEY: Shared Blessings and Harvest

"The turkey is sometimes called the earth eagle. It has a long history of association with spirituality and the honoring of the Earth Mother. It is a symbol of all the blessings that the Earth contains, along with the ability to use them to their greatest advantage."

- from Animal Speak by Ted Andrews

* read It's That Simple (Part Two)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Some Day

We met Lewis (0n the left) at the Martz bus station @ 7:30 this morning. Lewis showed up for work @ 3:40 am because the first bus comes through @ 4 am. Lewis used to drive a bus but his days were sixteen hours long. Now he gets done with work around 11:00 am. For someone who has to get up so early, Lewis is a really sweet guy. I, on the other hand, would be quite cranky.

Dad took a bus to visit my brother, Dave, and his family in Northampton, MA. He had to ride the bus into NYC, then transfer. I gave him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple for his trip. I was a little worried about him getting lost in Port Authority because it's easy to get lost there. I'm happy to report that I did not pin my phone number (in case of emergencies) on Dad's coat. I did speak to Ralph Martinez, the bus driver (no photo) and whispered, Please look out for my Dad. Thanks, Ralph.

Back home, Claire and Elizabeth read in the back of the car while our resident turkeys took a walk through the yard.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Animal Crackers

Read this quote, (from Mom's book of daily meditations), while Animal Crackers In My Soup, a song made famous by Shirley Temple, came on the swinging juke box in my head. Shirley Temple? Honestly, who's next? Liberace?

To live wholeheartedly, yet to detach ourselves from the outcomes of our actions is the key to serenity.


Later, while tearing through the garden (trying to get Shirley out of my head), I spotted this purple morning glory blooming, all by herself, out of the bricks.

Note to self: See? You can grow anywhere.

(even if you feel weird or afraid sometimes.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Red Apron

I thought, I'll listen to "All Things Considered" on NPR tonight. I thought, this is what grown-ups do. I'll listen to the news and see what's going on in the world. I'll chop garlic for the beans and cut thin slivers of tomato for finger food while I listen to the news. I'll make a simple dinner.

I'll tune in.

I clicked on the radio and heard that something, manufacturing?, had only grown by three tenths of one percent, which was hard for my mind to hook onto but no time to ponder before the voice moved to dozens of people dead in Baghdad. My left shoulder started to throb. I turned the radio off.

I went into the pantry and put on my red apron. The apron Judy brought back from Italy for me, the one with pictures of bread on it. Something in the folding of the apron and tugging it tight around my waist brought me back to my kitchen.

Begin again.

Chop red onion. Scrape with knife into pan with garlic. Slice corn off the cob, sweep white kernels into pan. Toss in a handful of pine nuts. Add salt & pepper. Swirl olive oil over mixture. Stir gently. Simmer.

Add beans.

Cover with white lid (that lost its mate years ago).

Simmer some more.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Nice, Kind Boy

Today is a sorting and skimming through old journals day, which feels about right on this fall-ish August afternoon. There's a hint of something in the air.

In one, big book I found pressed leaves, faded red and yellow. And green. And this story, written by a first grader I met during last year's writer residency. I smiled reading it. Then felt a heart pang about how fast everything seems to go. And how tender it all is. And how kind people can be.

Adrian is my friend. He is a nice, kind boy. I met him in kindergarten. We like to wrestle. He came to my house. We had fun.
By John

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fence Sitting

I never would've seen these beauties if I hadn't backed the car into the driveway today (which I rarely do.) There they were in the misty rain...

Turkeys sitting on the fence in the middle of the day.

I've been tracking this group, well, not running around in my loin cloth kind of tracking, but watching them as they parade past my window most days.

On Friday I counted fourteen; two grown-ups and a dozen babies, strolling under the apple trees. Every time I see them, I get still. And hit pause.

It's a wonder to me how they were fence sitting like that; letting the world go by, waiting things out. Not going anywhere, not figuring anything out.

I know what you're thinking. They're turkeys.

But still.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's That Simple! (Part Two)

Okay, so take your paw off that double chocolate peanut butter chunk with macadamia nuts cookie for a minute because here's the thing.

Yes, the ad said: EAT COOKIES, LOSE WEIGHT, IT'S THAT SIMPLE! But there's a catch.

Surprise, surprise!

Yesterday, I failed to mention that the EAT COOKIES, LOSE WEIGHT, IT'S THAT SIMPLE! plan, requires you to follow up each meal by emptying out a truck full of stones, or some other comparable activity. Here are a few fun suggestions:

dig in the dirt for two hours
move dirt in the wheel barrow across your yard. (this can be combined with the digging dirt project)
stack wood (again, two hours)
haul bricks & small boulders (one of my favorites!)

So, have a great day, dear readers. I'm off to whip up a batch of my special homemade oatmeal cookies with raisins and walnuts (and mini chocolate chips.) No need to worry.


And, I've got my shovel.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's That Simple!

Saw this ad in the yellow pages today...

Eat Cookies.
Lose Weight.
It's That Simple!

Who knew?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

That's No Gnome

"Okay, so this will be first base. The pink flowers, second. Let's use the beach chair for third. No, fold it down. No, you don't have to stand on it."

Game begins.
Ball gets hit.
Someone runs to first.

"She's out! She's out! She didn't touch the base!"
"But James, it's a gnome!"

Well, that explains everything.

[This heard during a lively game of wiffle ball up on the mountain today.]

note: this is an un-official photo of the gnome in question.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hey Good Looking!

The next time you pass a mirror; stop, smile, say

hey good looking!

then keep walking.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Only A Path

I am watching the baby turkeys stumble over the brush pile. The air is thick; heavy, buzzing with cicadas. A flying bug keeps banging its head on the window.

I do that.

This morning I opened Mom's meditation book to this:

Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you.

~ Carlos Castaneda

Thought: release yourself

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Pond

I was in the check-out line at the market yesterday chatting with Glenn, my cashier, not to be confused with Shane; tall, dark handsome college student cashier. Glenn was filling my green ec0-bags with the usual fare: oranges, bananas, two tubs of Turkey Hill ice cream. It was buy one, get one free, I had no choice, when the woman next to me said, "Do you wash those regularly?"

"Excuse me?" I said.
"Those bags, do you wash them?"
"Why no, I've never washed..."
"I saw a show where they carry so much bacteria you would not believe," she said, "I think they put them under some kind of scanner or something and..."
"Oh dear," I said, "Well, probably if you put me under some kind of scanner," I mumbled, "you'd find all kinds of things."

I was trying to be funny. Or change the subject. But she carried on with how she had to be careful because her husband had muse syndrome and things needed to be very clean. Muse syndrome? I should've asked her to spell it. But Glenn was being pokey with the bagging, so I stepped up and nestled my ice cream, butter pecan & chocolate chip cookie dough, in my green-eco, apparently bacteria riddled bag, and high-tailed it out of there. Sorry, Glenn, she's all yours.

I will not be washing my green bags today, or anything else. We're heading up the mountain to go jump in the pond. I'm going to strip my clothes off and let the minnows nibble on my toes. And keep my eye out for the sleek, black water snake that likes to glide along the edge where the forget-me-nots grow. And then later, chow down on a bowl of ice cream, while sitting in the grass, most likely tick-ridden, and give thanks for this beautiful August day, and for being alive.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Midnight Hour

It's a little disconcerting to be muttering, be here now, Betsy, be here now, and then come face to face with stacks of plastic pumpkins and scarecrows outside of A.C. Moore. That's just wrong. I mean, why is it that I go to buy flip-flops in August and all I can find is mukluks and parkas? All this hurrying everything along makes my stomach hurt.

Claire and I couldn't do another store after the pumpkin fiasco; we came straight home where instead of facing my paperwork and the on-going re-structuring of our upstairs study/office, I simply cannot focus...I got on the John Deere and mowed what's left of our toasted lawn. And then got big clippers and pruned branches from the tree that took a nasty swipe at my arm while I was on the mower.

Oddly, dear reader,while the song of the day, I'm gonna wait til the midnight hour, looped around and around in my busy bee head, I found myself fantasizing about the days when I'd wield a chain saw like a flannel-shirted lumberjack(son). I'd crank that baby up with one hand, work boot on the log, can you hear it, wood chips flying with this thing in my hands that could've cut my fucking leg off. God, I loved that! I am so looking for that girl...

Since I'm rambling, I want to shout out to Laurel, who outed herself as the 40th follower of This Being Alive, yes. And my heart is singing, any number of songs, to the rest of you lovelies, for putting your shiny faces on board.

Let's make it fifty, whaddya say?

Love a writer, pass this on.

xo b

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sounds Seedy

Neeny's husband was hosting men's group, for real, so she drove us to a scenic location overlooking the Delaware River and parked the car where we spent the next two hours telling stories and watching night drop down


we opened the back of the car to the view, propped ourselves up on pillows and ate almonds. And edamame (say that three times fast...)


drank wine, out of real wine glasses. I'm probably wrong, but isn't it illegal to eat edamame in a parked car, in Pennsylvania? I could check with my husband (the lawyer), but the whole evening is kind of mums the word,


when the police officer circled around, we tucked the edamame out of sight and raised our wine glasses, Thanks officer! for keeping us safe from the strange guy in the green Chevy who wanted to chat it up with us. We gave him a stare like, do you really think we want to talk to you, buddy? He stepped away when Neeny opened the corkscrew.

(mums the word, remember?)

Perhaps the oddest sighting of our impromptu night out was when a young man, donning prayer shawl, yarmulka, and backpack came strolling into the area. Yes, the Appalachian Trail isn't too far off but


we asked ourselves in a modest motherly fashion,What is this young man doing here all alone? when, another man, American flag bandana wrapped tightly on his head, pulled up and gave us the once over.

Sounds seedy, I know, except it wasn't.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

You'd Think We Were The Waltons

I've been contemplating running away from home because my family, yes, my loved ones are driving me to distraction. The combination of endless dishes in the sink, you'd think we were the Waltons, the sound of something like bricks dropping up in Dad's room, Claire, eyes glazed, watching 27 Kids and Counting. Oops, 19.

I shut the door, someone opens the door. The cat looks faint. Everything is parched, brown, dusty. Is my family responsible for this desert motif? Well, yes. And okay, my knees in downward facing dog? Not great. I'm batty.

I am driving me batty.

Where to go?

The library, with Dad and Claire in tow. Dad ambled to the reception desk where he unsuccessfully tried to get a library card; I think you need a passport these days to do that. Claire went in search of a chapter book. I fled up the big stairs to the new book section where I stumbled on,

Bluebird; Women and the New Psychology of Happiness by Ariel Gore

and opened to, "I'd always kept an irregular journal, but as I looked back through those pages now, I was embarrassed by the litany of complaints. In February, I was tired and stressed-out. In April, a friend had spited me. One night in June, I'd stayed up until dawn worrying about my daughter. And in August, I pretty much despised everyone I'd ever met. I'd recorded all the things that made me unhappy, but what made me happy?"

then skimmed and read,

"Maybe, the only thing harder than facing an honest desire is denying it."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Reel It Back

Dad's settling down for the night. Michael's upstairs with his horn. Claire is watching a show about sharks.

I am so happy to be in my big bed, fan going overhead, crickets and cicadas and other summer sounds buzzing outside my window. I love summer sounds.

Thinking about my brother, Rob, and our phone call, and how I get all swirly like this too...

"I can't believe it's August," he said. "Then, school, and fall, then winter, windows closed, smelly oil heater, cold. I'm giving myself that seasonal affective disorder and it's only August. I had to tell myself, reel it back in, buddy!"

We do get ahead of ourselves, don't we?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Guardian At The Gate

I'm at my computer when I hear the shuffle of feet coming down the hall.
Then Claire's voice. I turn to see her body blocking the door to my bedroom.
"Pop, Mom's blogging."
"Mom's blogging. You can talk to her when she's done, okay?"
"In the bathroom?"

Now there's a thought.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Magic 8 Ball Blues

Is my throat going to start feeling better soon?
Signs point to yes.

Will writing this blog change my life ?
It is decidedly so.

Is someone coming to clean the house?
My reply is no.

Wait a minute, let me rephrase that.
Concentrate and ask again.

Shake, shake, shake.

Don't count on it.
Without a doubt.
Better not tell you now.

This ball's clearly broken. Maybe I messed with the small pyramid thing when I threw it on the brick patio. But I've been sick. I need a message, a sign, something.

Shake, shake, shake.
Ask again later.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Caught In Between

"...feeling under the weather weakens our resolve and clouds our vision; yet sometimes when we get bed ridden it gives a chance/time to reflect on things which fly by when we are feeling well and on top of the world. you got caught in between -- not on top of the world and not sick enough to take time out to reflect."

Michael wrote that in an email, after I'd written him apologizing for my cranky behavior at breakfast. Waking up feeling like I had swallowed glass wasn't a great start to the day. I've been out of sorts, not feeling well, tired of taking care of people (elderly father), restless for some kind of shift. My husband nailed it: I got caught in between.

A week ago I was high flying with the evening of theater at the Deerhead. But as the week wore on, my energy shifted. Dad was laid low. Really low.

On Thursday we landed at the home of a grieving mother. Friday we traveled into New York to meet up with family. Sunday there was a full blown jazz band practicing at the house. Late nights, early mornings. Lots of driving. Up, down, here, there, soft, loud, happy, sad.

By yesterday, I was unraveling.

And that's how life goes, right? We cling to, oh this feels so good, let me stay here. Then, push away, what's wrong with me? Why do I feel so lost?

Today, in between.

I get it, again.

Note to self: be like the river...flow.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ordinary Life

In ordinary life, creativity means making
something for the soul out of every experience.

~ Thomas Moore

Monday, August 2, 2010



Today is Jesse's birthday. Like any mom, it's a day I'll never forget. There was the pushing her out and hearing, it's a girl. Joy swept through me. And then desperation; I had to have a slice of pizza with pepperoni. Post-partum craving? Six hours later, I told the doctor I was going home and taking my girl with me. We've been together ever since.

Okay, so it's stunning to me that my kid is twenty-nine. Especially since I'm hovering around thirty-seven. These things have a way of sneaking up on you while you're living your life which might account for the dizziness I'm feeling today.

Jesse is capable, smart, funny, honest, beautiful, a terrific Mom to Elizabeth, & big sister to Claire. And one helluva life coach. I should be paying her gobs of money for all the good, direct advice she's shared with me over the past few years. But I get a discount because I raised her. Well, we grew up together. She turned out just fine, in spite of all the cracks in my armor. Isn't this what we pray for? That our children find their own path, passion, joy. Yup.

I know your kid, or dog, sends you weekly motivational quotes like mine does. This one came to my inbox, in the nick 'o time, I might add. Jesse's timing has always been impeccable. Anyway, she sent it to me. And now I'm sending it back to her, and sharing it with the rest of you fabulous people too. Read it. Then close your eyes and feel it. [even if you don't believe it.]

Make your life a masterpiece; imagine no limitations on what you can be, have or do.

It's yours for the taking, sweetie. Happy birthday!

xoxo love forever, mom

Sunday, August 1, 2010

No Vampires

I want to write about being in the city on Friday, strolling across Washington Square Park, my old stomping grounds. And our meal at I Tres Merli in Soho; loft-space with brick walls, wide open doors to the street... and our waitress, Sara, who was from Transylvania. No vampires, she said. She treated us to flutes of cold sparkling champagne because it was so rare for her to chat with regular people.

Or maybe about the night before that, when we drove to New Jersey to have dinner with Laurie, Michael's long-time friend from California, and how we met at her cousin's house; her cousin who just over a month ago lost her son to suicide. At one point I realized that every adult at the dinner table had known someone who had killed themselves. I could see Claire through the glass doors in the living room, speaking quietly to the tiny birds in cages.

Then yesterday I wrote in my notebook; I am happy to be back with Michael. Some days I swing so far away from him, I almost lose sight of his face and then, we're nose to nose again, and I am gazing into his blue eyes, earnest. And I feel so happy to have come back, to have found my way back to him, yet again.