Friday, February 26, 2010

Why I've Been Working Instead of Blogging As Much Lately...

To provide the inflation-adjusted retirement income you desire, you will need to save 26.9% of your yearly income (less any employer match, if applicable). This year, for example, the amount would be $18,796 or $1,566 a month.

If you wait just one year to start saving for retirement you will need to save 29.7% of your annual income, which amounts to $20,775 in the first year. Save Now and Save Less!!!

(From Too bad I can't copy the chart here - it's really impressive, like a huge blue wave of money that needs earning and saving!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

View From Above

Bright bags piled up
Like oranges for sale
Beside the freeway

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Poem


This morning
The curl of your hand
Around my finger
Is the only thing
That matters
A small gesture that
Says everything

And I
Am Happy

Feb. 20, 2010


Written by Kristen Kochel, Sumner, Washington at the age of 16.

I believe this appeared in Words on the Page, the World in Your Hands, a book of easy-level readings to develop adult literacy. I found it while clearing out my files a few months ago. I used to use it as a lesson example in my teaching, perhaps for description, perhaps for journaling, perhaps to spark a lesson of creative writing. It's been so long now, I don't quite remember. I didn't use it every year, as I did Cisnero's House on Mango Street or Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, only for a few years in the center of my career.

"Perhaps reincarnation is not a myth, but merely a time from where we get our instincts. I remember a place far different from where I've grown up, rolling plains and long wavy grasses blowing in hot summer breezes. Winters with snow driving fiercely into my face and the hushed silence after a blizzard. I see these places when I dream, images my subconscious remembers and recreates to tempt me into fully believing I am there again.

I dream of a man, as most hormone-driven teenagers do, but the things I feel are not wholly lust. I never seem to be able to see his face clearly, but I know his eyes are a deep, chocolate brown that I drown in every time I am captured by his gaze. His hair is the satiny black color of a raven's wing; it shimmers in the light, daring me to tangle my fingers in its beautiful length. It reaches his shoulder blades and will soon rival the length of my own. He has strong, capable hands with a beautiful texture put there by years of work and play. Thier strength is hidden beneath a gentleness like silk-swathed steel, a steel that protects and cares for those less capable.

He has a rigid sense of honor which irritates me to no end at times; I remain virtuous by his incredible control. I could perhaps convince him otherwise in today's world, but alas, this is a dream. Once I am committed, I will not be able to back off. What he takes, when it's freely given, he keeps forever.

I believe he was a plainsman, Lakota or Cheyenne, before the Civil War. He was a warrior and was considered a member of high society, giving freely to those who didn't have enough, as is the way among the tribe, whether an adopted member or born of the people.

I do not know his name; I search for it each time I dream of him. The only thing I find is the vision of a hawk, flying on a sky of red, screaming defiance at the wind and at those who cannot fly. I come back from the vision and fall prey to his heart-stopping smile.

If true love exists, could this be it? I haven't met the actual person; perhaps I never will. Is he out there dreaming of me? I can only hope he is. So many questions floating through my head and no answers to be found. My heart aches for someone, perhaps the someone of my dreams."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Committed - An Excerpt

Having greatly enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, I couldn't wait to read her new work Committed. Part memoir, part reflection on the state of marriage, Committed is not the book I would ever have written about marriage, but I'm finding it intriguing nonetheless.

"And now that memory - that sound - swam through me, too. I even felt as though I could remember it, despite having never met Felipe's father, who died years ago. In fact, there are probably only about four people alive in the whole world who remember Felipe's father at all anymore, and only one of them - until the moment Felipe shared this story with me - recalled exactly how that man had looked and sounded when he used to swim across wide Brazilian rivers in the middle years of the last century. But now I felt that I could remember it, too, in a strange and personal way.

This is intimacy: the trading of stories in the dark.

This act, the act of quiet nighttime talking, illustrates for me more than anything else the curious alchemy of companionship. Because when Felipe described his father's swimming stroke, I took that watery image and I stitched it carefully into the hem of my own life, and now I will carry that around with me forever. As long as I live, and even long after Felipe has gone, his childhood memory, his father, his river, his Brazil - all of this, too, has somehow become me." p239

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Poem: Luminous

I had to dig this one out of the bottom of my purse to post it here.
Transcribing from its original scribbled form on a crumpled,
daffodil bright, yoga schedule as the words unfolded in the bright morning light...
The luminous limning of
my tongue at your ear
is the pen on this page
the moonlight shooting across

the salted waves, the drift
of cloud at noon
the expression of the

you wish to be
that indeed
you already are

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Poem: Brahma by Ralph Waldo Emerson

My husband's taking a Comparative Mythology class and preparing a project on Indian Mythology. Discussion of the various gods popped this poem back into my head. I chose it to memorize and recite to my American Literature Class when I was 16. Even then, I had an interest in spiritual search.

Now it reminds me of the chants we learned in yoga teacher training, and also of walking below towering redwoods in our favorite stand of trees, where the nature center has posted an Emerson quote. (Well, actually it reminds me of everything, based on its message!)

If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.
Far or forgot to me is near,
Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The vanished gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

1856 [1857]
Photo credit to

Monday, February 8, 2010

At Play

It was a wonderful weekend. We celebrated a birthday with sunburst lemon pie, strolled around one hundred years ago at a festival held under sodden skies.

We came home with this gorgeous set of blocks, toys for our children and us as well.

Chatting with the block craftsman and vendor, the original small businessman, I told myself to remember this joke he made and share it with you:

"I have to be careful not to overwork myself, or else I'll get Builder's Block."

Wishing you some fantasy building for this week - Marie

Friday, February 5, 2010

Forecast for the Coming Year

No, it's not my birthday.

While shuffling around in piles of work papers, looking for nonprofit details for an application, I came across this horoscope that I saved. Meant to post it here, so I thought I better do it now, before it disappears again into the piles in each room that comprise my cumulative work space

"You'll focus your keen intellect on solving problems for others. A rush of affection makes the holidays sweeter. You'll barter services for something you dearly want in January. March is a rebirth for your career. Loved ones credit you for success in the spring. Sagittarius and Aries adore you."

I'm solving problems right now. Don't remember bartering anything in particular last month. Hmm. Maybe it will come clear later. Rebirth, career, credit and adoration seem promising! Although I don't know that I know any Sags or Aries, off the top of my head...

Wishing you a pleasant and fulfilling year of your own destiny!
Illustration credit to Josephine Wall at

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Counter Mood


Terresa over at The Chocolate Chip Waffle wrote about "the mean reds" a few days ago. Made me remember reading Breakfast at Tiffany's last year and enjoying the book's ambiguities and melancholy ever so much more than the movie, which I also actually like quite a bit.

But the movie is glitz and glamour, a bit more madcap than serious, whereas the characters in the book are quite lost, wandering around in a haze of self-survival. They're selfish, flawed bastards.

That's the way I'm feeling lately - like people are selfish, flawed bastards. Like everybody is mostly out for themselves and nobody cares as much about anything else as they do their own getting ahead.

The Mean Reds.

This is unlike me. I am quite the lover of people in all of their wonderful, flawed, brilliant, quirky, contradictory complexity. I like to hang out around people, I like to watch people, I like to talk to people, I like to help people. Usually, if it's people-based, I'm in.

But sometimes I get lonely and scared and then I become very, very bitter. Like what is the point?

Sometimes I feel like I am pouring more into other people, particularly relative strangers, than I am getting in return.

Squiggly. Small-minded. Fearful. I'm like a grubby grey worm writhing about on the sidewalk, completely cut off from the bigger picture.

When I'm in this mood, I know I'm cut off. I know it's not what I really believe. But, there you are. I'm in a grumpy, whiny, self-pitying, look at me and do something to make me feel better, kind of mood.

Sigh. I probably should do some yoga or go shopping for some kind of chocolate and/or silk scarves.

What do you do when you feel full of venomous bile?
[*In case you care, I must credit the photo of the grey worm to Apparently the grey worm is an actual species, along with 12 others in that area of the UK. Perhaps my Brit readers in that area will find some while going about their days.]

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Now I've written a poem.

That means something to me if no one else,

and somehow restores the graceful beauty to this day.

My Card

I've drawn this card consistently and repeatedly over the last six months whenever I touch my deck.

"The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know in order to make a decision about a problem or a job, an investment, love, career, family, etc.

And, finally, there is, behind her throne, the curtain that leads to the deepest, most esoteric and secret knowledge; the pomegranates that decorate it remind us of Persephone, who was taken down into the land of the dead, ate its fruit, and became the only goddess allowed to travel to and from that strange land. This indicates that when you get the High Priestess, you're going to be learning some very odd things. Very odd.

If there is a card that symbolizes the tarot reader it is the High Priestess. A woman (or man!) of psychic powers, intuition and secret knowledge. Where the Magician is about revealing, the High Priestess is about keeping things hidden behind the curtain. Things you know, but don't tell.
If the reader feels the High Priestess stands for the Querent, then this is a time of solitary investigation and the passing on of secret knowledge. The Querent might find themselves spending time in old libraries, reading through dusty documents and letters, or studying old religious texts. Things kept secret will be revealed to them. Likewise, these secrets might come to them psychically by way of visions or powerful instincts. Insights may be found in crystal balls, tea leaves, dreams or conversations with spirits."