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:

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

 All Saints (for November 1)
Though Satan breaks our dark glass into shards
Each shard still shines with Christ’s reflected light,
It glances from the eyes, kindles the words
Of all his unknown saints. The dark is bright
With quiet lives and steady lights undimmed,
The witness of the ones we shunned and shamed.
Plain in our sight and far beyond our seeing
He weaves them with us in the web of being
They stand beside us even as we grieve,
The lone and left behind whom no one claimed,
Unnumbered multitudes, he lifts above
The shadow of the gibbet and the grave,
To triumph where all saints are known and named;
The gathered glories of His wounded love.
     -- a sonnet by Malcolm Guite (click the title to hear the poet read)

"Each shard still shines"... image by Margot Krebs Neale

Monday, October 29, 2018

Yesterday was a genuine nor'easter day, with winds and gusty rain most of the day. It made me think of our sunny summery days in Lenox at Mike Cooney's cottage, and on Sanibel Island where we spent a wonderful warm week last January. This painting brings back those memories. 

"Friends", plein aire by Robin Weiss

Thunder and rain this morning, 
causing these magnetic words 
to arrive on my file cabinet ... 

A lovely day of fall colors. We drove into Westerly and then back to the Mystic Y, and the colors were stunning -- so many shining golds and reds among the trees. Aaron says the colors are almost gone in New Hampshire, but down here we might just be getting started. 
Image result for daily painters autumn colors
"Autumn Rainbow", pastel by Karen Margulis

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Yesterday we had our second fire in the fireplace, from about 2:00 to 4:00. We were going out for dinner early, so we built a small but warming fire, and Cia and I sat close to it for an hour or so, reading and doing computer work. It was fun to watch the flames grow stronger and the coals get brighter and hotter, and then slowly the flames fluttered and flared down into warm coals as we got ready to leave .

We had a fine dinner at Noah's. We were planning to meet Jim and Ann there, but they couldn't make it at the last minute, so we enjoyed two tasty meals by ourselves as daylight slowly disappeared outside. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

    Today we worked out at the Y in the morning, Cia on the treadmill and me on the rowing machine. I haven't done much rowing there, but today it was a pleasure to pump along fairly quickly as I looked out the huge windows at the sky and homes and people proudly (I hope) walking from the parking lot into the Y to take care of their bodies (and lives). I got fairly exhausted fairly soon, and ended the workout with the best of showers.

    From the Y, we went to our weekly writing class, where the topic was "etiquette", and I was amazed at some of the writing my fellow classmates did.  One of the women wrote a scathing attack on the lack of basic manners these days, and not only were her words powerful, but her entire piece was gracefully and stylishly written. Impressive, for sure.

Full moon this morning from the sunroom


Thursday, October 25, 2018

A magnetic message on my file cabinet... 

A lovely card sent to me by Annie ...

Yesterday, we attended a lecture on medicare 
and medicaid, given by a financial planner, and it was informative, except that the speaker spoke far too fast, and almost mumbled many of his words. I felt frustrated as I tried to follow what he was saying. I wish I had had the opportunity to offer him some advice on public speaking. 

Now, today at 5:50 pm, we are sitting before the fireplace, enjoying our first fire of the season (see below). 
Cia has her shoes off and her feet up on the hearth, 
feeling the comfort of the flames. 
We are a very lucky pair. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Today I was in the warm pool at the YMCA at 7:30 am, following the instructions given by my physical therapist. She's helping me work out the kinks and craziness in my lower back since my injury of several weeks ago, and today's treatment was both hard work and light-hearted fun. The warmth of the water sort of enfolded me as I did the exercises, and whatever pain I felt was somehow almost comfortable for me. I look forward to using the warm pool many more times in the future, and not just to rehab a cranky back. 

Below are two photos of our soccer star named Louie ... 

and magnetic messages for today, on my file cabinet ... 

Monday, October 22, 2018

   I enjoyed working at my desk this afternoon, getting a few poems organized and then sending three fairly new ones to EPOCH magazine, published at Cornell University. It gave me a feeling of orderliness and fulfillment, just sending out another set of carefully written and revised from-the-heart poems. Now I just wait for - hopefully - a positive reply. 

  Today, happily, I was able to walk around our neighborhood, if only for a few minutes. My back and knee were bothersome during the walk, and my physical therapist advises against straining in any way, so I gave up after about 15 minutes, and we returned home. (Cia, like the dear friend she is, walked by my side at my comical pace, when she could have been racing along at her usual speedy stride.)

     Below are two videos involving some serious soccer players I know:

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Today we sat in silence side by side for 60 minutes at the Quaker meeting for worship, and, as usual, it was an inspiring time for both of us. Every few minutes, one of us reached out to the hold the hand of the other -- sort of a way of sharing the inspirations we were receiving from the silence. 

Later, we went to the Y, where Cia said she got a seriously sweaty workout, and where I at least pedaled and pumped for a few minutes, with my lower back aching all the while. But ... I am very optimistic. I'll be out walking and riding with my Cia much sooner than later!

Yesterday, we had a wonderful visit from Annie and Louie, down from Northampton for an afternoon with us and an overnight with Jan. 
We spent several hours sort of wandering through many happy activities, but mostly playing out in the yard with Louie and his soccer ball. Annie and Cia proved to be good competition for young Louie, as this brief video shows: 

Annie and I also found some time to chat, and, as always, our conversation was heartwarming. She is a queen of quiet and ever-confident love. 

Later that evening, Cia and I went to hear the Eastern CT Symphony Orchestra's first concert of the year, and it was, as always, an absorbing performance. Of course, as usual for the ECSO, several of the pieces were too wild and baffling for me to appreciate, but I think both of us loved the piano soloist's performance of Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini", one of my favorite pieces from many years ago. She played with true zest and devotion. 

Below is a magnetic message from yesterday:

Friday, October 19, 2018

Today I did a very light workout at the Y, just easy pedaling for about 20 minutes, and then hobbled downstairs to the lobby for a snack of fresh russet apple slices and animal crackers (yum!) and waited for Cia to come from her haircut. 

Then we drove to our weekly writing class, a friendly and lively gathering of senior citizens who love sharing their thoughts on paper. Today's topic was "books", and we writers wrote and shared about our favorite books, our struggles with reading as kids, our feelings about the value of reading. This weekly group of around a dozen friends might be our favorite gathering. We write from the heart, share with sincerity, and listen with attentiveness to the sharing. It's a fun and inspiring time for us, Friday after Friday. 
The view from Holmberg Orchards

We had lunch at Panera, and then drove along some scenic autumn roads to my favorite October apple orchard store, where I bought a big bag of my favorite apples, the russets. I am set for a paradise of eating for the next week or so!

Later, I started our next jigsaw puzzle, a lovely painting of an old bookshelf full of well-worn classic books. Should be a challenging pleasure for the next few weeks - or months. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Today I went to the newly remodeled YMCA in Mystic, and enjoyed my light workout in the beautiful facility. The bike I rode (gently, for just 20 minutes – my back injury again) was facing the pristine Mystic River through enormous windows. I felt positively inspired by the sight, and look forward to months and years of serious workouts in this rousing setting.

Later, we drove to Jim and Ann’s house, where Jim and I hung out for some good guy talk while our ladies went for a brisk but windy walk on Napatree Beach. It was such fun to talk with Jim about a range of topics, some quite deep and personal – just two old men opening old doors (and new) into their lives. Around noon, we four drove to a little café, a favorite of Jim and Ann’s, for a hearty lunch and happy talk.

This evening, we drove to Stonington Point to enjoy the sunset, and it was a special one (below).

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

      We went to the gym early today, after our breakfast and meditation, and we both had healthy workouts, though mine was still fairly laid-back because of my back problems. However, it was fun to feel the sunlight through the big windows over the street as I pumped lightly along on the recumbent bike, listening to some inspiring spiritual thoughts on my headphones.
       Later in the morning, I joined a few long-time teacher friends (all retirees) for coffee and some wonderful conversation at a nearby café. I hadn’t seen some of them in many months (years?), and it was a warm, fulfilling reunion for me.
       Cia and I had lunch at a local café, our very favorite, and enjoyed one of their always tasty wraps (Cia), as well as a black bean burger with salad (me). We took home about half the food, and used it for a light supper, just before leaving for a poetry reading by a good friend at a local library. We love her poems (below), and loved her sensitive, inspiring reading. We feel lucky to know her ....  and lucky to have had another super day in our 70’s.
Image result for image margaret gibson book

Today I want to be like an endless, bottomless lake. What’s most wonderful about this is that, being like a lake, I won’t have to actually ‘do’ anything today. A lake just stays exactly where it is in the universe, all day long. It’s never doing anything, but always just being. If we could imagine a lake deciding that it wants to be a better lake, it would also realize that it wouldn’t have to do anything to be a better lake, but just be what it always is. This is a hard concept for me to understand - this idea of being rather than doing - because I have always believed in the power of doing. My mantra, for as long as I can recall, has been "if you want to live a happy life, do something". Today, though, I want to be happy by simply being something. Like a lake with no shores and no bottom, I will stop instead of go, wait instead of hurry, receive instead of refuse, say a gentle yes instead of a determined no.  I will be Lake Hamilton, where leaves and sunlight and people and trash and good news and bad news are welcome to come for a rest.
Image result for laurel lake lenox ma images
Laurel Lake, Lenox, MA

Monday, October 15, 2018

I had a quiet day, mostly spent in a comfortable chair as I slowly recuperate from my lower back injury. I made good use of the time,  however -- reorganizing some of my writing, and working on some new writing projects. It's strange to be house-bound (as Cia would say) and almost chair-bound, to sit all day long and look out a window at the wide world going about its busy business -- mist on a stormy morning, winds, cars cruising here and there, maybe some birds now and then soaring over. I'm learning what it feels like to be a little handicapped -- just a little, because hundreds of millions of people, right at this minute, are far, far more handicapped than I am. But still, I'm learning something about suffering and woe. I hope to be a good student. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

   Today I was up early again, around 5:00, and the early darkness in the sunroom made a perfect atmosphere for some quiet meditation. I was glad, too, that Cia was still peacefully sleeping, getting some needed extra rest. 
   Later in the morning, after breakfast, she started feeling headaches coming on, so she stayed home and I went to the Quaker meeting for worship. It was a good worship time for me, sitting silently among our silent friends for an hour, but I missed having my dearest Friend by my side.  
   Before dinner, we took a drive over to Stonington point to watch the sunset, and it was a true beauty, something like this ....Image result for image sunset stonington point