Monday, March 09, 2009

Heart it

Hello there little dust bunny.

The photo above is of 30 "compassion" hearts I made for a class over winter break. Yes, I did arts and crafts for a class. No, I'm not in art school.

I happen to dislike Valentine's Day and hearts in general, but decided to reclaim the heart for myself as the most powerful muscle in the body and as a symbol of bravery and compassion. On the back of each of these hearts is a cookie fortune sized slip of paper with a quote on compassion. A different quote for each heart. I gave one to each member of the class. They worked for them; the honesty, bravery and vulnerability they demonstrated in this class bowled me over.

The fabric bits on the front are from a plethora of vintage scarves....a big boxed lot I got on ebay years ago and that have served me well for many fabric projects. They are covered over with netting and sewn to the heart shaped remnants of a felted red wool sweater that was hand knit by my friend Sarah. Washing machine accidents and wool can have happy endings.


In other news I am about to take a trip with my eldest to the East Coast. Airfare right now is ridiculously cheap and there is a marketing/recruiting shindig going on at a university she is interested in. It has been a challenging year for her, she's doing well in school, but is bored by the whole thing and thinking about the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be motivating her. In some ways I feel a little silly doing the whole college thing when she's still got two years to go. Honestly it is just a selfish mom excuse to spend a weekend out with a lovely young woman in a great city. I'm looking forward to it. We may even get to have dinner with an old friend here one evening. I hope so.

I could use some motivation myself. I keep thinking I've turned corners and then find myself standing in front of a brick wall. In the meantime I will work on some graffitti.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I just returned from a month in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. A month of sheer, unadulterated joy, the beauty of living in an intentional community and the heartbreak of leaving many wonderful new friends who I felt a deep connection to within that short time. I also got to work at my passion as the baker's assistant. Heaven.

There aren't words to describe it....some pictures will have to do:

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Monday, June 16, 2008

My oldest friend

This same moon saw me crying through the back window of my parent's car as a song on the radio broke my heart open, it watched me spin around and around with a group of people to Rembetika music outside a cafe in Chios , as it rose blood red over the Mediterranean. I can even imagine it catching my attention as a baby slung over my mother's shoulder on a summer evening a brilliant, glowing ball on the horizon.

One of the first things I look for when I go outside in the evening is the moon. Throughout numerous moves, lonely evenings spent smoking out back (when I was smoking) and times of transcendent joy it has been there. So much changes, but it has been with me wherever I go and whatever I'm doing.

It doesn't matter how well you know yourself...What matters is how you relate to what you do know. ~Mark Epstein

Every Thursday evening I drive along the Braes Bayou to the meditation center and the moon is there keeping me company in the damp green heat of Houston. Over the last month or so this winding road past trees dripping with Spanish Moss has moved me past something, a resistance I have had all this time to this place and myself in it. My feelings about sprawl and a car-centric city haven't changed, but something has shifted. I'm not looking to leave here unless something very specific comes looking to take me away.

I had dinner on Friday with a friend at a restaurant I had been dreaming about since we moved here. The entire menu was local and the food was stunning. I told my friend that I was tired of always wishing myself elsewhere, not to mention moving, and that we will make our lives here as if it is the only place there is to be. We walked outside the restaurant and I stood under a peach tree full of velvety ripe fruit and saw the moon through its branches and thought of it shining on my own garden: the fig tree, meyer lemons, blackberries and muscadines.

I thought, where the moon is, that's home.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Coming out of the shell

We found this snail shell on a morning walk. The snail either abandoned the shell, doubtful, or was plucked up and emptied by one of the herons that sometimes hang out in the trees of our neighborhood which is bordered by one of the many bayous that make this Bayou City. For the uninitiated these are not pronounced Bye ooo as I did when I first landed on these humid shores, but Bye O. Anyway, this snail is no native either. A gourmand or entrepreneur (or so the story goes) "introduced" them to the area hoping for a windfall in escargot. I do love escargot, but have never gotten up the courage to harvest them for consumption. Which doesn't mean my hands are clean, as I do round them up and make them "swim" in order to save our garden harvest. They can wreak havoc.

This snail is a good metaphor for what's happening in our lives in these parts soon. The shell is what I've surrounded myself with the past several years; taking care of others, putting my own needs and desires on hold and also just holding on to what came before in a way that keeps me from moving forward. I'm hoping to leave that all behind. A tall order, but one worth pursuing I think. I feel like this is a watershed year for me. I turned 40 and I'm about to spend an entire month on my own without my family. When I come back I will embark on a new career path.

The kids are heading out together to spend two months with their grandmother on a farm that has been in the family since 1885. I'm so happy that they can sit by the fireplace with books I read as a child and listen to their grandmother's stories.

And all three of us girls, heading out on our adventures, have a wonderful guy who supports us in our need to expand our horizons holding down the fort!

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Friday, May 09, 2008


In truth I gave notice at my job two days ago, BUT this is because I was accepted into the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Houston AND I was accepted into the volunteer program at a meditation retreat in Vermont for the month of July. Big changes on the horizon and an unbelievable month all to myself (it has been 16 years since I've had one of those!).

There has been some tense dramarama at my job post giving notice. My boss was actually very nice about me leaving, but there are other issues with other people and I will be glad to walk away from there in three more weeks.

In exchange for working 30 hours a week Monday-Friday here I will have the privilege of spending, room and board free, the month of July far from the wilting Houston heat. Much to my delight I was informed that the majority of work will be outside. This will hopefully detoxify me from the desk bound life I've been leading. I've already got the books I plan to read while there lined up, some fresh notebooks on hold as well as visits planned with two women I love and haven't seen in a while, one in Quebec and the other in Burlington.

The kids are spending two months with their grandmother on her farm in Argentina this summer and Juan will be watching all the crazy violent movies I can't take here at home.

Come August I will be in school once again. I'm excited about the program in large part because we are required to work at a community agency for 16 hours a week every semester. I'm a hands on kind of girl and think/hope that classes will be more interesting due to the fact that all the students will actually have real life experiences to bring to the theory and study of social issues.

One other thing I am looking forward to in July is no access to a computer. It's been at least 12 years since that has happened for more than a short bit of time. I plan to write letters something I did a lot more of before email entered my life!

Friday, April 11, 2008


This weekend there are no fixed plans a relief and a luxury after over a month of weekends on the go. Fridays are traditionally family nights so we had dinner and then Madelines and tea outside with the local wildlife.

SofĂ­a is my nature chick. She reminds me of myself at that age. I spent hours staring into a creek bed, catching frogs and even more hours turning over rotting logs to see if I could capture newts. I wanted so much to be a herpetologist and to write for National Geographic. My own father saw his dreams of being an "ologist" in me. The last time I visited him he pulled out a record he found that was made in a booth when he was 10 where he talked about wanting to become a scientist "geologist, zoologist or some kind of ologist." He used to hang out around the staff entrance of the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC hoping to learn more about the things he found, and he learned how to do taxidermy from one of the scientists who must have seen some potential in him. The sound of his young hopeful voice made me very sad. College was so far out of the reality of anyone in his family and he never managed to make it there. He had a family to support instead. I grew up with snakes and lizards and preserved these pets when they died in the formaldehyde my dad kept in his closet. I regret never having been challenged in science and I do think a lot of it had to do with being a girl. Sofia announced this evening that she wants to be "a natural scientist that studies frogs and toads" that would be a herpetologist! No pressure, but it would be cool!

The only fixed plan I have this weekend is to go see Marjane Satrapi with Micaela. My very good friend Adam gave Micaela her first book a few years ago. We have yet to see the movie, but Micaela is looking forward to getting her book signed for her collection of books signed by women authors including Isabel Allende and Gloria Steinem(a picture of her getting the book signed and she wasn't 9 she was 4!). The only man in the group is Ira Glass who we saw earlier this year.

I'm feeling rather insular these days...I'm trying to be here in my life even when it sucks, which the 8-4 part definitely does. This too shall pass.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

This is what 40 looks like

A day like any other, but with bigger expectations I suppose. A beautiful brunch out with my family, a new book of poetry bought (a yearly tradition) and the gift I most wanted received. Things aren't quite as I'd hope they'd be at this milestone in my life, but when are things ever quite as we hope? I'm trying to appreciate the moments I'm given.