Tuesday, January 15, 2019

   Today is a very chilly one – in the 20’s, at best. Luckily, we have a warm home, and sunshine is lighting up the coldness outside.

     We had a very important meeting with out five children on Saturday, a chance to go over our “advance health care directives” and make sure they fully understand our wishes in situations where we are unable to make decisions for ourselves (dementia, stroke, etc.) It was a quiet, thoughtful, and thorough meeting, and I think all of us present felt that it was helpful.

         We’re heading up to Jamie’s today ro pick up the kids and spend some time with them over dinner while Jamie’s works with high students after school. It’s a treat for us to spend time each week with two such wonderful young people as Noah and Ava.

         Lovely tulips in our dining room:

Sunday, January 6, 2019

. . . a peaceful flute player . . . 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Image result for painting of someone writing
This writer would enjoy David's class -- except she's way too young.

Yesterday we attended (as we almost always do) the weekly writing class at the Pawcatuck Senior Center, led by our good friend David. I'm always impressed by the bravery and honesty in the writing done by us senior citizens. We all seem to be willing to just open our minds and hearts and let the words spread out spontaneously on our notebooks (and laptop screen, in my case). When we shared out writing yesterday, several people were in tears as they read, some almost being unable to finish. It's truly a gift for us to be there each Friday morning, both to do our own kind of careful, truthful writing, and also to hear the lionhearted words of our fellow writers. 
* * * * *

Later, we enjoyed an excellent dinner at the Mystic Diner with our good friends Andre and Joyce. Amidst the wide-ranging conversation, Joyce told us she had incorporated our hand-made Christmas card into an art project she had been working on,  and they shared this photo of it (below). Our card is on the left. I think we both felt honored that our humble card was appearing in a work done by a serious artist!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Today we took a brisk walk over some of our favorite roads, up and down the hills of Mystic, breathing heavily (me) and striding confidently along (Delycia). It was windy and chilly, but soon we took off jackets and enjoyed the warming sunshine. It felt so good  to be back out on the roads with good legs, good lungs, and my sweetheart. 

We had a wonderful few days at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health last week, and below are some notes I took at three of the excellent dharma talks we attended:

A poem from yesterday ... 

Patricia F., 46, Blessings, CT

She knows each second
makes a new song,
so she listens carefully.
She belongs to these seconds,
these songs.
Their singing
is her life-force,
the flowing and influencing
from far away
that affects her
in a baffling but beautiful way.
The songs of life
sometimes flock around her
like friends,
ruffling in an uplifting way,
the same way
she ruffles and raises up
everyone who sees her
shining anywhere,
and hears the songs
she shares
because she was born.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A letter to brother Al . . . 

Al, wonderful article on the poetics of ice skating! I haven’t skated in years, but we used to do quite a lot on the Wood River near our house in RI. It’s where I first learned how to actually skate for more than 30 seconds. However, for all my love of poetry, I had never thought of skating as a metaphor for poetry composition, until I read this article! I love the fact that both skating and poetry writing can consist of twists and twirls and leaps, some of them totally unplanned. It’s what poetry has gradually become for me; like Klopstock, I’ve started bringing "abruptness and glowing turns to poetry”, just letting my hands “skate” across the keyboard in pure fun. I’m going to keep this metaphor in mind these next few weeks as I skate around with words. 

Here’s a little quick skating:

He sat down to write, 
but soon he saw
that the words were doing the writing, 
not he.
He sat back and watched 
as words swirled and twisted 
across the screen,
spinning and spiraling
and spraying up ideas 
as they skated around 
with recklessness. 
Surely this is not poetry,
he said, 
but the words didn’t care 
and kept smiling 
and kicking up their steely sounds,
so he let them go 
and gave them a shout 
and a slippery cheer.  

That little skate took about 10 minutes. What fun! (No publisher would want it, but why would a lover of skating care?)

Thanks, Albie!


Monday, December 3, 2018

 Related image

I am almost fully recovered (at least I feel that way) from my back injury, thanks to good help from a number of sources, most importantly, from Delycia. She has reminded me, questioned me, and pushed me, all with gentleness and love. I've also had good help from physical therapists and doctors, helping me to get to the point, today, where I feel almost back to normal physically. Can't wait to hit the trails with my sweetheart. 
Related image
Hammy and Cia

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Today I got back into Swann's Way, and am so glad I did. I guess I found some quiet patience again, some ability to just let the words flow past me and do their magic -- and Proust could definitely do magic with words. I paused over and re-read many paragraphs and pages, and realized that this novel is actually a collection of hundreds - maybe thousands - of poems, all strung together over hundreds of pages to form, eventually, a story. So far, I'm finding it hard to see any plot to the story, but I am thoroughly enjoying the poetry!

Swann's Way (ebook)

This evening, we spent  (as usual) a comforting few hours in front of a comforting  fire . . . . how lucky we are!

Friday, November 30, 2018

We had another fun morning at our writing class. As usual, I was amazed at the courage of these women -- and our leader, David -- all writing straight from the heart with the audacity of people who have nothing to lose by being brazenly honest. As almost always, I sincerely enjoyed just listening to their youthful, frisky words. 
I did feel bad, though, about leaving without helping to celebrate David's birthday. I wish we had stayed just a few more minutes, to share some food and drink and say some good words to the birthday guy. 
Oil painting - A Girl Writing
"A Girl Writing", oil, by Henriette Browne (1829-1901)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Today I had another wonderful meditation after breakfast, just focusing on my breathing and the sights and sounds around me, letting the present moment be exactly what it was. Slowly, I'm re-learning that all power is right here, right now, and that there's no limit to it. If I could remember this all day long, each day would be a complete miracle. 

Cia put up an astonishingly beautiful piece of art on our living room window today -- a winter scene with graceful white trees and falling snowflakes. I am amazed whenever I look at it. What a visual treat for us for the next three weeks! (See below.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I had one of the best birthday celebrations yesterday, organized by beautiful Cia. It was just our good friends, Jim and Ann -- no raucous gathering, no gifts, no cake -- just pure friendship and lighthearted fun. We ate a delicious "Cialunch", and laughed as we ate. I've known Jim for 40 years and Ann for 30, and Delycia has welcomed them for 8 years as her good friends. This was a birthday I will never forget -- simple, but simply perfect.  

Today, we picked up Noah and Ava at their schools and spent the evening with them while Jamie taught his first evening GED class. We had a quiet dinner with the kids -- a couple of excellent hearty salads -- and some good conversation. I think we both feel lucky to be spending quality time each week with such kind and considerate kids. 

Beach buddies - 2014

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Yesterday we had the third beautiful Thanksgiving feast of this season, at Jamie's, with most of the family in attendance. It was truly one of our happiest family gatherings, at least in my memory. There seemed to be a free-and-easy sense of cordiality and togetherness among us, with small conversations going on around the house and everyone seeming relaxed and satisfied and excited about the season. I had good conversations with Gabe, with Luke and Rachael, with Noah, with Annie, and many brief chats with many others. It was a day full of thankfulness for me.    

Friday, November 23, 2018

Cia, Aaron, and I traveled up to Sherborn to join Peter and Evelyn and family and friends for their annual Thanksgiving celebration, and, as always, it was a festive, laugh-filled, heart-warming occasion. I didn't say much (just my sometimes introvert tendency) but I happily took in all the true friendship I felt in the house. These people have known each other for many years, and have clearly grown very close in that time, so it was good for me to step back and just observe and appreciate the true friendship around me.



Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Day -- and a lucky one for us. Aaron, Jamie, and Matt came around 10:00 am and did some faithful, frigid leaf-raking for almost two hours, stopping in to the sunroom now and then for some hot apple cider and some general warmth, and then back out into the 18 degree weather for more raking and bagging. They are our "Thanksgiving heroes", for sure. We are very grateful. 

Our favorite leaf rakers!

We then had a lovely, sumptuous feast prepared by Aaron and Delycia -- roasted ham (Aaron) and many delightful side-dishes (Delycia). Afterwards, we talked for a long time in the living room about all kinds of issues -- a perfect Thanksgiving conversation. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Barbara Drummond Keller - Painting my love of swimming

I wish I could swim like this!
Yesterday, I had another long and luxurious swim at the Y (well, long for me anyway - 30 minutes). There were just a few other swimmers in the water, so I felt sort of privileged and affluent, which I guess I am, compared to most of the people in the world. After all, I am able to swim in three different pools almost whenever I wish -- surely a sign of prosperity and entitlement. I am a very fortunate and very thankful guy. 

Each morning, Delycia and I do about 30 minutes of quiet meditation together in our delightful sunroom. Here she is this morning, lost in the present moment . . . 

A magnetic poem this morning . . .

Aaron is with us tonight and tomorrow for our Thanksgiving feast, and staying through Friday. We had a wonderful meal tonight at the fireside -- three good friends (lucky me). 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Related image
The warm Buckley Pool at the Westerly YMCA
I am still enjoying my daily swimming adventures at the YMCA pools. Yesterday, I swam in the warm pool in Westerly, and, while it was a pleasant and helpful workout, it was almost too warm. After a few laps, I felt like I was almost perspiring in the close and sultry air.  However, I stayed until the end, partly because I had the pool almost to myself, but also because I was delighting in the sensation of feeling my arms and legs flow through the water in a seemingly effortless way. 

Below, a wonderful birthday letter from brother Pete ...

My magnetic poem for today . . . 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

On Sunday, we had a wonderful work party at our home, the first of many, I hope. I finally developed enough wisdom and courage to ask Luke, Jamie, and Matt for help in doing some heavy autumn chores, and on Sunday, Luke and Josh and Matt came over and fairly quickly took care of a great many jobs that had been waiting. When the jobs were completed, we sat around the dining room table sipping warmed apple cider and just being friends and family. Luke and Josh helped Cia with some computer problems and I chatted with Matt about school issues. For all of us, I think, it was a day to remember. (Jamie's coming down for Thanksgiving dinner, and then he and Aaron and Matt will give us another wonderful family work day!)

Then, yesterday we drove up to Jamie's and had yet another marvelous family time. We picked up the kids at their schools, and then spent the afternoon and early evening at home at Jamie's, chatting and laughing and being good friends. I loved seeing the very open and free affection both Noah and Ava showered on Cia and me, and when Jamie came home, it was like a loving family gathering. Cia fixed a wonderful taco salad for supper, and we shared stories as we ate. On the drive home, both Cia and I talked about how lucky we feel to have special evenings like this. 

Cia and Jimmy Squirrel enjoying each other's company . . . 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Yesterday I saw a doctor 
at the Westerly Pain and Spine Clinic, 
and it was a special few minutes for me. 
First of all, I was with my best-friend-ever, Delycia, 
and it was powerful to have her by my side 
as the doctor asked questions and examined me. 
She is full of strength and wisdom (though she would deny both), and being beside her 
as the doctor gave his diagnosis 
was a blessing for me. 
His diagnosis was reasonably optimistic, 
and I almost shook Delycia's hand when he was finished, 
almost as if she and I were both the patient.  

One of the doctor's suggestions 
was that I give up drinking alcohol - 
a major piece of bad news! 
I have been enjoying 
several glasses of wine each day for decades and decades, 
and now, suddenly, the door is closed, shut tight. 
Well . . . I think - I know - I will survive this small crisis. 
Last night, I had a peaceful few hours after dinner, 
talking with Cia, reading, watching a little TV, 
and then fell asleep easily beside her - 
with no help from two glasses of wine. 
A good start, I would say.  

Delycia participated in a protest last night 
against Trump's firing of Jeff Sessions, 
and here are some photos . . . 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

     We have had a tumultuous few days, with the midterm elections on Tuesday and all the rumbling and mumblings that came with it. Actually, now, on a sunny and cool Thursday, I'm feeling sort of free and unreserved, realizing that life is still flowing along in its good-humored way, and what I have to do, as usual, is simply sit back in my boat and let life carry me along where it will. Trump is a fool, but so are all of us at times. These times seem scary to many of us, but there are always occasional storms at sea, and our boats have to simply settle down and wait for the sunshine. As always, it will come.  (This doesn't mean that we don't have to work, and work hard, to make some changes in our government's policies. Of course we do, but we must work hard with the reassuring understanding that the "sea" beneath us is infinite and indestructible, and our good work will allow it to take us where we need to go.)

* * * * *

A painting for today . . . 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

      I have had some lovely times recently in the YMCA pools, both in Mystic and Westerly. With my hurting back, my usual exercise routines - bike rides, kayaking, long walks - have been impossible, so I've been forced to seek alternatives, and swimming has been a godsend. Exercising in those pools -- both the lap pools and the warm pool in Westerly -- has been like working out in an inexpensive and almost private paradise. As humans and water animals have known for eons, water is a very welcoming element. I feel totally embraced and supported as I'm swimming slowly along in those pools, as if the water is working carefully, in its soft way, to take good care of me. I move my arms and legs with a fair amount of speed and power (considering my injury), and this morning I felt my heart pumping at a surprisingly fast pace.  And another delight? I've always been one of only a small number of folks in the pools, as if it's my own personal place of healing.  Lucky me (as usual)!
Image result for paintings rainy day

A soggy day today . . .

And some magnetic words . . . 

     We're heading up to Jamie's this evening to pick up the kids and have dinner with them when Jamie gets home from parent conferences.  Lucky Hammy and Cia!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Lovely colors in our backyard!

A magnetic message for today . . . 

For some reason, 
I seem to be noticing the fall colors 
more this year than ever before. 
Strange, that this happens to me so often -- 
suddenly noticing, 
really seeing things 
that I thought I had seen many times before, 
but obviously hadn't. 
This year, I'm not just glancing at the colorful trees, 
but really observing, noting, 
maybe even discerning them.

I wonder ... how many other miracles 
present in my life
have I never truly seen

Wonderful birthday lunch today with Matty. 
We three sat together 
in a small, cozy, noisy-in-a-friendly-way cafe 
and ate and shared heartwarming conversation. 
As I so often do, 
I felt very lucky to be a father and husband. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

     I thoroughly enjoyed our weekly writing class yesterday. The topic was "soul", and I was surprised by how well people reacted to it. Some of the writing - maybe most - seemed sincere and quite powerful, as if the topic had opened up memories and feelings that had been forgotten. I wrote a short piece, but after listening to many of the writers share their sincere and often inspiring stories about "soul", I decided not to read what I had written. Somehow, it seemed sort of dim and in the shadows compared to the very honest words of the other writers.

 * * * * *

Yesterday's poem...

Several times each day – sometimes each hour –
it comes to me that my life is one of absolute abundance.
I see it everywhere –
in the profusion of clouds above our house this afternoon,
in the great hordes of leaves now lying across lawns,
even in the swarms of thoughts
that circle through me almost constantly.
Whole stacks of possibilities await me each morning,
and long lines of doors
seem to open for my life all day long.
At any moment,
I am one of gazillions of brand new creations
in this bounteous universe,
and many  thousands of generous  roads
are waiting  for me.   

* * * * *

And magnetic messages ....

Lovely autumn trees in the cemetery on Rte. 27 this afternoon ... 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

     Last night a few bunches of giggling children came to the door with their Halloween costumes on, and Cia and I had some good laughs as we chatted with them and gave out our treats. It's always a scary-happy night for kids across the country, and perhaps the world. Behind the sometimes spooky costumes, there's always good cheer.

Delycia's lovely chrysanthemums, the last bloomer of the season
A young, shining dogwood


a magnetic message on my file cabinet today

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

At Peace by Samuel Harrington MD 

Yesterday, we spent some time reading together a chapter from  a very good book about end-of-life issues. Delycia took the initiative to get us over to the LaGrua Center last week for a lecture on this important topic by a retired physician, and she purchased his book and has been reading it - studying it, actually - ever since. Yesterday, we sat together in the sunny sunroom and read and talked about some very important pages. I think we both felt like we are traveling together, and happily so, on this end-of-life journey (as everyone is, really).

Today we read another very informative chapter in the book, me sitting in the lazy boy beside the big, bright window and Cia lying comfortably on the couch. Strange, how pleasant it is to read about preparing for death with my loved one. 

Leaves are floating everywhere, 
and some trees are shining 
like enormous bushes of flames. 

This afternoon, we drove down to my favorite apple store, Holmberg Orchards, to pick up yet another batch of delicious russet  apples. Until a few years ago, I had never tasted a russet, but now they are my very favorite apple - so sweet and chunky and rich. 

Image result for painting russet apples
A basket of russets

Magnetic message for today: