Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

“Snow had fallen, snow on snow…”

Dearest Friends,

Our year, like Rossetti’s poem, opened with snow. Lots of it, piled in big, cold drifts in the mountains only 15 minutes from our home. We took the girls there to play, encountering crowds of other families. Our car even got stuck on a slippery place beside the road! Happily, a family we knew showed up in their jeep and rescued us.

Looking back, 2010 was like that. There were many high points, perhaps a bit of peril, and always a friend near to offer support and assistance. Early in the year, we visited the Santa Monica Pier. B enjoyed her first roller coaster ride, screaming her exhilaration across the blue-green waves. Her excitement was even greater when she won first place for third grade in the school science fair and got an honorable mention for her work at the District level. Her experiment: what type of food can cool the burn of spicy salsa? The results: milk and dairy products work best. Science with an everyday application!

J investigated the burning point of marshmallows for fifth grade and was thrilled to win second place. S and I were astonished that they both won (and also relieved to be done testing hot things!) In spring, S finished a myth class for grad school. He and J got to put the research into practice when they played genies in the local production of Aladdin. After months of rehearsals, it was a big deal --a flying-by-wire, life-sized elephant, cast-of-hundreds-scaled production. An off, off-Broadway piece that saw them painted entirely blue for their song-and-dance numbers. Plus S got to pull the elephant.

As the year warmed, our family was challenged to overcome adversity, mainly with a two mile hike to the top of the mountain just behind our home. We turned out with the community and made it to the peak, savoring the wild flowers and the forgotten vistas. We worked in 2010 on straightening out our lives, mostly when both girls got braces! They are thrilled and love their ortho visits, and their teeth are already on the way to teenage perfection.

This year I got rejected as a kidney donor for a friend – oh, the sting!— but I had my work accepted for publication. That makes two short stories in print, and more out for consideration. I lost a steady client of my grant writing business because of economic restructuring, but I became a substitute teacher for the local yoga studio. Balance in adversity, the yin-yang of daily life.

Rossetti’s poem is below, if you’d like to read it. It’s been one of my favorite Christmas poems for a long time. Besides the vivid use of language, I like the contrast she sets up. In the middle of bleakness and cold arrives the light of warmth and hope. Snow had fallen all around, but the snow was just a part of the miracle to come. Our year started with snow; maybe yours did as well. We’ve attached a little snowflake here for you so you know that we are sending along with this letter our love and our hope for your own special miracle.

Merry Christmas 2010!

This Year's Suggested Poem

In The Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Monday, December 20, 2010


A winter Solstice - full moon - lunar eclipse tonight. Yowsa!

All during the storm of the decade for us. Even if we can't see it tonight, we'll still know that it's happening.

A lot like faith.

Wishing you moonbeams and mistletoe for a merry Solstice!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Today I threw
Eternity against Remembrance
The ruby red aflame
Against the settled green

Why toss something away
When it can become

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don't Change (in excess)

"I'm standing here on the ground
The sky above won't fall down..."

What could be better than that, really?

Why I Shop

I shop because I love the sensations of it. I love to enter a store and feel that rush of scented air, see the piles of goods all around, the colors, the textures, the whirl of signs vying for my attention. I love the sounds – the music, the clitter-clatter of carts and registers and high heels tapping, the murmur of voices, sometimes low, sometimes sharp and loud.

I love to be out among people. To pass them in an aisle. The occasional moment of eye contact, the warm smile or hello. I like to stand before a cashier and fumble out my cash or swipe my card with that one definitive stroke.

I like to look for things, to sort and order among too many choices. I like to feel and weigh the value of an object in my hand, to measure the weave of a fabric, and shake the garment out into its full style. I like to imagine – what my life would be like with each new object in it, how that coffee cup or this candle would or would not fit into my home, into my life. I like to make decisions. Some things I leave behind. Most things I leave behind. Useless clutter adds only weight and mass to a life already pleasantly full. But, sometimes, I find a new treasure, a possession to be prized for its comfort, its vivid hue, its craftsmanship. The passing of goods from one set of human hands to another, even if those anonymous hands are located on the other side of the world and had to send their small bit of art to me through trucks and ships and commerce.

I like commerce. I like being part of the marketplace, as people have always been. I like the hunt, the gathering, filling that ancient urge to group enough goods together to survive, even if survival is no longer on the line when I purchase a faux cashmere cranberry scarf. I like the concentrating of human energy that money and merchandise represent, that basic, tangible, physical exchange between essentially spiritual beings.

And I like to give things to others. So, for me, Christmas is the perfect holiday. I love the shopping.

Coming next: Why I Love Gifts and Giving

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life is Happening!

I feel a bit guilty about not posting here more regularly. I think of this blog often, but as it is basically a hobby and a luxury, I don't always put it near the top of my priority list.

My many friends out there will be glad to hear that I don't write here as often as I like because I am so occupied in writing elsewhere. My freelance business has taken off, and I couldn't be more pleased. It was a bit of rough going earlier this year - I lost a long term client, very regretfully on both sides, due to their budget cuts. But then more steady clients came along, and lately I have just about as much work as I can possibly handle!

My goals as a full -time writer have always been two-fold: 1) I wanted to make a place for myself in the world where I was using my skills, talents, and aptitudes to help others. 2) I wanted to replace the income I used to earn as a teacher.

The way things are going, I think I'll hit both goals in 2011. Fingers crossed!!

Additionally, I am in the thick of a fiction project that I haven't wanted to say much about. Let's just say that I am very pleased and that my writing mentor is being incredibly encouraging! So... maybe one day sooner rather than later, you'll be finding my name out there on Amazon!

Also, I've continued to yoga it up. I teach semi-regularly now, subbing in for a range of teacher/friends. My practice continues to be a long term joy.

So, for all these reasons, please forgive my sporadic silences. I do think of you and send warm wishes your way daily!