Thursday, February 25, 2010

vagina monologues

a bunch of my friends and i went to see The Vagina Monologues performed at uconn health center in farmington. if it seems like an odd place and a strange venue, at least, as i said to one friend - the hospital's full of people who are comfortable saying and hearing the word "vagina."

but to tell you the truth, although i had wanted to see the show in a vague sort of way for quite a while now, the reason i went to see this particular version was at the urging of a ghost.

one of the ladies - a member of one of my writing circles - lost her father last summer. although nearly a year has gone by, my sense is that for this young woman, her father was as much her daddy as mine is to me. at our last gathering, i happened to be sitting next to her, and i could feel his presence quite strongly.

tell her im here, he kept insisting, giving me energetic pokes that feel a little bit like tiny electric shocks delivered directly to the marrow of one's bones.

but i don't do that. not everyone is open to spirits, not everyone welcomes a stranger into their emotional and spiritual lives. plus, the meeting was about writing. it would've been rude to interrupt the group.

you have to get her to ask me, i said silently to sara's daddy.

then the subject of the play came up - in which sara was performing - and i could feel how much he wanted his daughter to know he'd be there, how desperately he himself wanted to be there. i could feel how proud he was of her acting ability, how proud he was of her accomplishments in general, and how much he wanted everyone to appreciate his beautiful, talented, intelligent daughter.

i felt another one of those little pokes and the next thing i knew i was blurting out: "let's all go see the show!"

so seven of us did.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

slow and steady

many years ago, back in bethlehem, when i was a full time mommy and mister ex was a Pillar of the Community, one of the young priests in our episcopal parish got married.

for one reason or another, i didn't run into tony for quite a few months after his wedding, but the first time i did, in the line after church, it was clear he'd put on quite a bit of weight. married life agrees with me, he said, grinning and patting his new paunch.

there's nothing like homecooking and regular sex to put weight on a man, i observed. tony laughed, but i think the knees of the matron behind me buckled almost to the floor.

the same, alas, is true for women. and now that i've lost the impetus to run from something, it's been hard to find a reason to run at all.

for the third day in a row, i've made it to the gym at roughly the same time. the first day i managed 25 minutes on the elliptical machine, and ten minutes on the treadmill. yesterday i did 50 minutes on the elliptical, and 15 minutes on the treadmill.

today i did 65 minutes on the elliptical, and 20 minutes on the treadmill. i also added arms today, because i tried a different kind of elliptical machine.

since coming back from hawaii, i've also been doing my yoga every morning either before or after libby goes to school. this morning, with first a delay and then school cancelled all together, i did a whole luxurious hour.

i really like the way im feeling.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

back to the gym

maybe it was hawaii. maybe it's the fact Beloved's been faithfully hauling his shrinking belly to the gym every day. maybe it's the fact i've been Hearing i need some exercise and the ice isn't melting in the driveway soon enough.

whatever it was, while i was in hawaii, i took a long hard look at why i wasn't exercising, and decided that i really have absolutely no excuse not to exercise. what i lacked was focus, discipline and a plan.

i looked at my calendar and my daily routine and decided there was no reason not to schedule workouts when i am feeling most energetic. i also decided there was no reason why i wasn't being more faithful to my yoga routine.

im not interested in how i look so much as i how i feel. i realized i could be feeling a lot stronger, lighter, and more flexible than i feel right now. all i had to do was decide to do something about it... and then follow through.

so i have. i looked back at what i liked when i was working out seriously, and what i didn't. i looked at what i've learned about myself - that much as i like to do my own thing, like my dogs and children, i do best when i put myself on a daily schedule.

i carved out two hours every day, and signed up with Beloved's gym. our preferred times of day to work out don't correspond, so i doubt we will spend much time exercising together. i met with a personal trainer yesterday, who's going to help me create a weekly program so i can show up at more or less the same time every day and do Something.

it won't take you long to get back into shape, the trainer said, when i offered i wasn't looking for a quick fix. your muscles will remember. you're already lifting more than some men can when they start.

after two days of working out, i can tell that my muscles do.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

stewing in stories

ideas come to me like money to misers. i always sort of snicker at the novice writer who doesn't want to share her or his Big Idea. what the young writer doesn't know is that ideas are the easy part... especially in my world. anything can spark one... a billboard, an article, a song, a house. before i know it, they rise, some shining like diamonds, some ephemeral as foam.

they toss and turn and tumble, churning in my head like amino acids in the primordial soup. every so often, they combine, gathering enough mass and energy to crate a cogent form.

your head, observed a friend of mine, must be a really busy place.

at this point, i've got seven Ideas in various stages of completion. it's beginning to drive even me a little batty. my intention for this spring, i've decided, in terms of my Writing, is to tame some of this jumble in my head... to, like a good gardener, sort and prune and trim, and ultimately, find just the right conditions for all my Babies to grow.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

tiger, tiger

a new nadir was reached yesterday in television "journalism" when stations around the country thought it necessary to interrupt scheduled shows to broadcast tiger woods' apology.

it was replayed ad nauseum (and i do mean ad nauseum) throughout the day and evening - so much so i was ready to vomit by the end of my admittedly delicious dinner at west hartford's grant's.

there he was, poor ole tiger, looking about as tigerish as a kitten, standing in front of rows of solemn-faced men and women, hands folded, knees pressed tight. i wondered why they weren't holding prayer books, because to me they looked just the way i imagine the puritans who censured hester prynne or the ones who condemned 19 men and women at salem.

why not just slap a big red A on tiger's chest?

golf doesn't even count as a sport in my opinion, though there's lots of money in it, and let's face it, THAT's why tiger was standing there, all mush-mouthed and sad. i don't believe it's because he wants his wife back.

i think its because he wants his endorsements back.

i've never thought too much of golf - even though my daddy plays it. i've never thought too much of anyone who wants to waste all his or her time "playing" it "professionally," but then large sums of money don't impress me, and being good at swinging a club at a little ball so you can put it into a little hole strikes me as a ridiculous waste of time.

so i never thought too much of tiger woods at his best, and watching him blubber his apology with those watery eyes and then fall into his mamma's arms, pretty much finished off any respect i might have had for him.

the problem tiger woods has is not that he cheated on his wife. the problem is he got married in the first place. whether he should or shouldn't have sex with all those women isn't anyone's business but tiger's and the women who said yes. to my way of thinking its that he made this promise he clearly had no ability to keep.

people who are really in love don't cheat on each other, in my experience, because the idea of anyone else is not only unnecessary but verges on anathema. one reason i know Beloved is beloved is because the very idea of anyone else - other than johnny depp and maureen dowd - touching me intimately skeeves me out.

clearly, tiger's feelings for his wife weren't quite that deep, and so he was able to cheat. but the only reason in my opinion he was wrong was because he made a promise, and if he hadn't made the promise in the first place, it wouldn't be an issue. it wouldn't even be a record, especially compared to the legends in the NBA.

a few weeks ago, libby had to write an editorial for an english project. the book the class had been reading was The Scarlet Letter and the topic was adultery. she came to me for my thoughts. this is what we came up with:

Outlaw adultery? Let’s eliminate marriage.
An Editorial by Libby Bush

Recent events have prompted many people to suggest that a law should be passed outlawing adultery. Adultery is bad for marriage, they say, and anything that’s bad for marriage must be bad for families. Anything that’s bad for families must be bad for society in general, therefore, it seems only sensible and logical, say these folks, that there should be a law prohibiting it.

However, although we agree that adultery is in fact bad for marriage, we disagree that there should be a law against it. We believe that since adultery can only occur when one or both parties to the act are married to other people, we think it’s clear that the true cause of adultery is marriage. Thus, if we eliminate marriage, there can be no more adultery.

Clearly, the decision with whom to have sex is a very personal decision that each individual must make for him or herself. Surely the law has other more pressing issues to legislate and enforce than to remain the overseer of everyone’s sex life. It’s simply not practical. For example, even if there were a law passed against adultery, who would truly be able to see that it was followed? Are police going to go from house to house, door to door, room to room, making sure people are sleeping with whom they’re supposed to be sleeping with? Would we even want to live in a place where this was a possibility?

Thus, we believe that the way to eliminate adultery is to eliminate marriage. This would not only eliminate adultery, this would also save millions of politicians, business people, and clergypersons not only potential embarrassment and career-ending scandals, but also save the lives of millions of trees, who would not have to be sacrificed to be turned into tabloids or court documents.

needless to say, if i'd been tiger woods, the only thing i'd have announced yesterday was that i was ending the "marriage" and returning to golf.

and furthermore the war will end. blessed be.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

granny annie cooks...

seared purple cabbage

i'm always looking for ways to add more purple veggies to my daily rainbow, and i found this receipe in the new york times:

1 small head purple cabbage (the smaller the better, as i found out.)
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

heat olive oil in cast iron skillet preferably. chop cabbage into 8 equal wedges. when oil is hot, add cabbage and sear on both sides of the wedge. serve immediately with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

that's it. Beloved was lukewarm at best; i found it addicting to the point where i was scouring the burnt bits out of the pan.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

sweetest sixteen

there's this boy, said libby a few weeks ago. there's this boy and i really like him.

how does he feel about you, i asked.

we're just good friends, said libby.

that's good, i said.

meg says i should come right out and ask him if he likes me or get a friend to do it, but i don't think i should, she said. we're such good friends. i don't want to ruin it. i'm just going to let things be, and i'll just keep being his friend.

that's smart, i said.

i've heard a lot about this boy. he sounds like a nice kid. i mentioned his name to a teacher-friend, and she confirmed... he's a nice kid.

on valentine's day, he bought a flower for every girl at the lunch table. on president's day, he asked libby to a movie and since she had already made plans to see a movie with a friend, he went with both girls and paid for both, too. (libby bought the candy, but she said he was going to pay for that, as well, until she insisted.)

last night libby came home from the winter semi-formal dance and said this boy is now officially her boyfriend... facebook official.

teasing her, watching her, listening to her giggle, it was almost like being 16 again myself.

this morning, as i prepare to haul my old body to the gym, i watch the icicles melt in the coppery light glowing through the thinning clouds. this year, before my eyes, the Maiden incarnates right on cue. if that's not Magic, i don't know what is.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

knowing when to run

late yesterday, i got an email from a friend of mine that disturbed me very much. this past weekend, she had to call the police on her spouse. i don't know the details, but i do know the person in question has experienced anger and control issues in the past, and i've been worried about my friend for a long time...especially since she has very little children.

fifteen years ago this month, i found a letter from a divorce lawyer on my ex-husband's dresser, accepting a retainer to represent him. i don't know if he intended for me to find that letter, but i remember the absolute terror that coursed through me. my ex liked to use the threat of divorce as a club. what he forgot was that clubs can be picked up and swung the other direction.

he wasn't expecting me to serve him with papers first. to me, it felt like the bravest thing i've ever done. it took me a long time to stop being afraid of him and he spent years and untold energy attempting to use the legal system to punish me for having the temerity to leave. he's a lawyer, and he used every ounce of influence and knowledge of the courts against me in every way he could.

but i knew i had to leave ... i had to leave for five reasons. one, he wanted me to stop writing and he was doing everything possible to stop me. the small successes i'd enjoyed were too much for him to handle. you wouldn't be the first woman to put her career on hold for her family, he told me, the day i knew that we were really done.

the other four reasons were our children. somewhere i'd come to the conclusion that the relationship i was modeling for them was a dysfunctional one, that if my children were to ever have an idea of what a healthy relationship looked like, it wasn't going to be the one between their father and me.

everything i know about domestic violence tells me that my friend is in a great deal of danger, that the cycle is escalating, and that there's a possibility that the next time - and there is always a next time - the police won't get there in time to stop something terrible from happening.

this evening, on the tide of the waning moon, i offered the last pineapple from hawaii outside on my altar rock to the five Directions and these four fierce and guardian goddesses: White Buffalo Woman, Brigid, Mama Pele and Hecate. i put my friend into Their keeping and offered a pineapple quarter to each of them in turn. i asked Their blessing on my friend and her children, to keep them all i finished my small ritual, the wind, which had gone very still, suddenly began to blow.

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seeing snow

when i saw the headline "light snow headed for connecticut," i figured we were in for it. you watch, i said to Beloved. this is gonna the Big One.

Beloved laughed and said i was probably right.

this morning, the puppies and i stepped out into a slushy late-winter wonderland. the ground was covered by an inch or more of fluffy wet snow that's still falling now. the flakes looked like little stars on sam's black back. the bare spot beneath my window is covered up again.

but i know it won't last. the air lacks deep winter's bite. this morning, despite the falling snow, it felt plushy as gray flannel against my face.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

introduction to the intuitive arts

for those Gentle Readers in connecticut or close by, i hope you will consider joining me and my friend jennifer lilienthal for a six week workshop entitled INTRODUCTION TO THE INTUITIVE ARTS at the collinsville yoga center in collinsville, ct.

we will meet for six sundays in march and april... 2-4 PM. topics will include nurturing and strenghtening the sixth sense, oracles, connecting with the Other Side and more! space is limited... email me at to learn more or to reserve your place!

seeing green

i happened to glance directly down when i looked out the window next to my desk and was pleasantly surprised to see, on the north side of the house, no less, a promising patch of ground that seemed to me as if it were trying in the worst way to turn green.

that was at eight o'clock this morning, and the patch has grown considerably bigger since then, and even, dare i say it, a touch greener.

Beloved began setting up for joe-the-builder to come back and finish the downstairs project. i spent the morning playing with my new rug cleaner. this afternoon, the clouds cleared away, and the sun was so warm and bright that since i decided a perfect day includes both time spent outdoors and exercise, buddy and i took a two mile walk up and down the hill.

tonight, we're planning on finishing off our valentine's and chinese new year weekend with a visit to a place we used to frequent quite regularly when i first moved to connecticut. we like to go there to celebrate the start of spring training, because spring can't be far away when the news starts mentioning baseball regularly.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

all in the morning, betimes

valentine's day started off with a bang, though a rousing renditon of sugar-pie-honey-bunch is closer to the truth.

yesterday, Beloved sent me a beautiful bouquet of red tulips and blue irises. we went to the maple tree in simsbury - the scene of my fiftieth birthday, and the sort of place where one of the bartenders shared her baklava recipe. the food is a consistent couple notch's above standard bar food, and the kitchen is genial about requests.

today, Beloved is going off to celebrate chinese new year with his chinese class, and i am meeting a friend to discuss a new workshop series at the collinsville yoga center (in collinsville, of course) on sunday afternoons in march and april. we're calling it "introduction to the intuitive arts."

i reached deep into my computer files and pulled out a bunch of Old Ideas - manuscripts whose middles have become hopelessly muddled. today i have an article to write for the monthly "Eating...the Angel Way" column i do with my friend karen rider for the inner tapestry journal.

this week, among other things, i've been sitting with the idea of what my Perfect Day would look like. i dont have it completely mapped out yet, but i know its a blend of work and play and yoga and exercise and lovemaking and eating well, with time slotted in for all the beings i care about. this valentine's when Beloved goes off to the gym, i going to write down all the things i'd like to do in a "perfect day."

what about you, Gentle Reader? what does your "perfect day" include?

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

in the works

you know you've been spending too much time at home depot when the nice people who work there recognize you when you ask them for help.

today, Beloved and i went to buy the rest of the materials needed to finish renovating the laundry side of meg's bathroom. due to time constraints, joe-the-builder was only able to complete half the room - her bathroom side of the room - before she came home last december.

the laundry room project had stalled for other reasons, too, mostly because we were having trouble finding a sink we liked that could hold the 40+ gallons our ancient oversize washing machine spewed out.

then the beast had the grace to die.

the new one, a monster of efficiency and environmental responsibility, uses about a third as much water as far as i can tell as the old one did, and thus, in one fell swoop, our sink issue resolved itself.

we got a white sink cabinet and the biggest white sink we could find. the countertop is marbled black and dark blue, but no one's going to see much of it because of the size of the sink. we decided to carry the white subway tiles around the room, with random blue tiles and white braid around the top. no glass, though, on this side. there's space to build shelves and put up some hooks for brooms and mops.

my one conundrum is what to do for a divider between the two areas. so far we've considered folding doors, vertical blinds, and floor to ceiling curtains or drapes of some kind. i've tried using shelves, but the space is too small. as i said to Beloved today, however, the room is still evolving. i saw some pretty ideas in a catalogue today. im hoping something will suggest itself.

i'll post some before pictures before we get started.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

it's coming

spring was in the air, literally, last evening, when the sky was streaked with clouds of carnation pink. melting snow gushed from downspouts, and from all the way in the back of the house, i could hear the rush of the waterfall in the front. even the wind lacked bite.

this morning, the sunlight lies in long gold streaks across the snow, and i can hear the bluejays calling, the sparrows cheeping and the crows screaming. wednesday's snow lies light as down over the lawns and the rocks. on the other side of the pond, the willows are turning yellow. in the wood beside the storage shed, the dark green heads of snowdrops pepper the spotless snow.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

time's winged chariots

for the last week and a half, i've been considering my priorities and the direction of things in general. this morning, Beloved and i sat down and put a plan in place to finish the laundry area and exercise room downstairs. my hope is to get this project finished while we are in the process of moving Beloved's mother - hereinafter Bubbie - up to connecticut.

once she's here, and the downstairs is finished, our next project will be to spruce up the living room and the writing room. there's floors to refinish, furniture to remove and replace, bookcases to stain, drapes and slipcovers to make. i plan to reupholster my great-grandmother's loveseat and wingchair.

in all likelihood, all of this won't be accomplished until next christmas, but i like knowing we have a strategy in place.

Beloved was thoughtful enough to break the shower head off the wall this morning, too, so it was a perfect day to call joe-the-builder.

libby's taking driver's ed this winter, and she'll be eligible to get her license on may 15th. in my mind, i'm calling it lib-eration day, because that's the day i get to hang up my full-time chauffer hat. there's a poignancy, im sure, but for right now, its far enough away i can only look to it with anticipation. so far, libby has shown herself to be a mostly level-headed and responsible driver, as attentive to detail in her driving as she is in everything else.

an expanse of time and latitude are opening up before me, in a way it never has before. for the first time in a long time - since katie was born nearly 30 years ago - my comings and goings will not need to revolve so carefully around anyone else. i will not need to make the early morning trek up the hill that has punctuated my prime writing hours for the past seven years. i will not need to shape my days around the form of school or activities. i know all too well this brings a measure of its own anxiety, but the degree of freedom i will have once libby has her drivers' license is almost dizzying for me to contemplate.

for me, time has always been the most precious resource i have. i hoard my time, doling it out as i have to, jealous as a miser. my attitude toward my own time has gotten me in trouble with more than one employer, who all have seemed to feel that their measly pittance could ever in anyway compensate me for the expense of what i have always felt to be my most finite resource. blood, sweat and tears i make more of, but every hour of my time that slips away is an hour of my life forever lost. i count time as part of the energy i expend, and therefore, i try more carefully than many, i think, to only put my energy into things that really matter.

and so, as the days literally begin to lengthen, im feeling a need to consider carefully how make the most of this new gift of what i think of as the most precious resource of them all.

i'm thinking that it's time for me to have a Reading.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

no-snow snow-day

we woke up to dire predictions and an onslaught of cancellations. i begged Beloved not to drive in the impending disaster.

at noon he called from farmington. it's 33 degrees, he said. and it's raining.

it was flurrying here, little pellets of snow that floated menacingly down and didn't stick. it's not sticking here, i answered.

it's almost four o'clock now, and the wind is blowing harder and the snow is starting to swirl. there also seems to be a lot more of it.

i wouldn't be surprised if there's another snow day - this time with snow - tomorrow.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

growing pains

many years ago now, my best friend in all the world and i decided to start a writers' group. we based it on everything we knew and liked (and didn't like) about other writers' organizations, such as RWA. we started as a group of five writers in lorraine's living room, and quickly outgrew her space.

that little writers' group is still going strong, but if you read anything about their history, there will be no mention of either lorraine or myself. (lorraine was expunged, expelled and expurgated by the membership, and i walked out in disgust over the way she was treated by a certain faction within the organization.)

but that's the way it is with groups, i've learned. groups are like people in that they're born, they grow, they change and sometimes, they die.

despite my lack of affiliation with that little writers' group, i'm still proud of what lorraine and i did. a dynamic group, in my opinion, will frequently outgrow and overtake its founders, just like children have a way of taking off in directions their parents never dream possible. a good founder, like a good parent, has to know when to let go. i still read their website every once in awhile, and i always feel a little tickle of pride when i do.

the writers' circles i belong to here are much smaller than the monster that one turned into, but they still suffer from growing pains from time to time. my little passiflora group is hiccuping along from month-to-month, and the wethersfield circle was feeling a few pangs as well.

today our wethersfield circle met, and discussed ways to address our concerns, and i think we've come up with some solutions that will work. it helped tremendously, of course, that i had all that experience from that other little writers' group back in allentown.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

catching up and filling in

the suitcases are empty, the laundry is clean, the puppies are calm. all the projects and then some that i put on the back-burner until i "got home" are starting to rear their heads metaphorically and literally. the last few days i've resisted putting things on my calendar, but that's going to stop today.

my energy felt remarkably aligned with the season's this year - i spent a very quiet imbolc meditating on where i would like to put my energies next both long and short term, thinking about what sort of garden i would like to grow, what harvests i would like to reap.

i started back to work on the Eating the Angel Way book, and started a new series on the blog on how to start the spring time feeling rested, renewed and restored - even if you haven't spent two weeks in hawaii.

today is my grandmother's 97 birthday. her energy feels easy and at peace. me, not so much. this morning, once the house clears out - which thankfully, it will - i plan to spend some time creating a mandala for myself, and a more perfect vision of the directions in which i want my energy to flow.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

there, and back again

it feels ... at once strange and familiar to be home. my feet, having quickly become accustomed to barefeet and flipflops, protested at being confined in my adorable black moccasin-boots the whole way home. my nose hairs freeze every time i go outside and my lips are already feeling a touch chapped.

but i slept well last night, and for the first morning in nearly three weeks, i woke up without a kink in my neck, feeling remarkably refreshed and invigorated.

the puppies, of course, are beside themselves. i felt the worst about leaving them - my kids are old enough to (sort of) understand but sam and buddy have no ability to comprehend where i want or why i went there. nor could they understand i was coming back.

today i plan to settle in, unpack and catch up on blogging and phone calls. i have a mountain of laundry but the house is clean, thanks to a kind friend's cleaning person. imbolc begins at sunset, and i have some visions to create.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.