Wednesday, July 30, 2014

a journey of the heart

        At 2 weeks old weighing 3.5 pounds.  
Thriving through love and faith. Lessons for today.

A journey resumes.  The pain in my neck and shoulder remind me of the stress living in today’s world with a house full of teens.  When I was a teen, I thought I knew the way too.  It is difficult to guide and create structure and watch our children stumble, fall and get in too deep.  It is often heart breaking.  Truth be told, I eat to stuff the pain.

Approaching the brilliant twilight of my life, I can no longer afford to put off taking care of myself.  I cope with stress through words; putting them to paper and escaping through the pages of others’ imaginations.  It is not enough to sustain my sanity.  

Stepping out the door early this morning my daughter remarked, “Mum, I can smell the sea.”  Taking walks along the ocean’s edge, the salt air gently brings me to life.  I must resume this practice.  Here my eyes become clear and all the bounties in my life are revealed.  Each step brings me closer to peace amidst a world that is sometimes hard to take.

I cannot do this alone.  I pray for strength, guidance and wisdom.  Gratefully, I have a healthcare provider who listens; one who knows me so well that she can talk frankly about my challenging journey.  

Borrowing from a musical line, “I will survive.”   I don’t want to just exist in survival mode.  I want to thrive continuing to discover, grow and move about this world in awe and wonder.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


‘Truth is
I worry.
I want to trust
But just listen,
The news
Is not

You want so
So easily,
How can
I possibly

I love you,
I am

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stories On The Ceiling

Has the past invaded my brain? Worry makes a commanding appearance as I pour over old photographs. It's past midnight and I'm just too excited to sleep. The images don't so much make me meloncholly anymore, like they did after my parents' died, but now they create a fury of stories.  Stories that bind our family together. I forget worry.
These tales never grow old. Despite the fact that the same stories have been retold through the decades-laughter swells and throats ache holding back emotion, realizing change is inevitable with the passage of time. Stories may just be the only constant.

(This photo was certainly taken by my mother, who was the slowest photographer ever. Her care in capturing the shot never translated to quality. My mother had a thing for ceilings! Inevitably intended subjects were cut out of the shots. This photo was taken at my great aunt's house. Auntie and Gene lived on Cumberland Avenue in Portland. We visited nearly every Sunday after church. This image is a New Year's gathering probably between 1963 and 1966. My Aunt Karen has her back to the camera, while my father smokes at the table (acceptable for this era) and my sister laughs distracting her from posing.


                                  This is how I chose to spend my precious moments this morning.

“You’re gonna be old in a shake of a lamb’s tail,” my oldest joked just last night. Maybe, he half joked.  My husband just reached the big 6-0 and I am not far behind. Young by today’s standards. I’m not whining, just coming to terms with the fact that time is precious, but I still spend time frivolously.

Not long ago, I was walking to St. Mary’s School early mornings and visiting my grandmother in the afternoons. She was always there waiting in the yellow apartment house with the long stretch of brick walkway shaded by the “claimed to be” oldest tree in Biddeford.  It was a chestnut that threw prickly seed pods.  

It seems not long ago, I spent days at the beach with my mother from the cool of early morning, through the hot hours and into the late afternoon when the beach was covered in shadow. We would trudge back to the car, our hair dripping and our skin tight and sandy from the sea and sand.  Not long ago, I hunched on the couch, my father and I yelling at the TV, urging the Red Sox to pull through in the ninth.  Not long ago.

Those were times of certainty.  I hadn’t a care that the minutes were being used up, I was  young with years before me.  I was certain that my grandmother would always meet me at her door with chocolate chip cookies and stories of her cross country trip or the 1964 World Fair in New York City. I was certain that my mother would always float with me in the salty Atlantic and barefooted walk the  beach that seemed to stretch on forever.  And one day, my father would surely witness the Red Sox busting through the curse that was said to withhold them from the glory of a World Series.  I was certain.

Precious minutes are not certain. They are gifts.  Spend them well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Roots

Anxious to make my way; I left Biddeford all those years ago returning only to visit. This past week has allowed me to absorb the richness of my childhood and realize how profound it is to walk where my grandparents and parents worked, lived and raised a family. 

My brother is full of stories. He tells me that my grandfather worked here at City Hall in the 1920's as the city auditor. Before that he was the clerk of the common council-a two tier system of government. 

My grandparents lived next door in a first floor apartment that also housed Dr. Larochelle's dental office. Sitting on my granmother's stuffed couch, my hands would fly up to my ears to drowned the sound of the drill. Sometimes I couldn't take it and would retreat to the kitchen where my grandmother was making coffee jello or chocolate chip cookies.

When with my grandparents' I was often given the freedom with two quarters pressed into my hand to walk nearby to Woolworth's Department Store. I spent long hours in the toy section listening to cylinders that could be tipped back and forth to make animal sounds. Why a recurring mooo was appealing, I do not know. I guess I felt I was in charge of my world! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In The Present

Under the canopy, our squeals echoed. The posts outlying the rotunda were "safe" as the cousins played tag, our feet clicking on the flagstone. This while the adults tended to adult things.  Every once in awhile I would glance  over and see my mother and my Aunt Karen bent over cutting grass with hand shears or lugging water in the heavy galvanized pail we found in our cellar. Uncle George emerged, tall rubbing his back after crouching to plant the red geraniums. Once a year they tended to the past; while we remained in the present piercing the air in delight.

Monday, July 21, 2014


“Think of yourself as an incandescent power, illuminated and perhaps forever talked to by God and his messengers.” ― Brenda Ueland

When I came upon this quote today, it struck me so, that I read it over and over.  As a young kid, (wait who am I kidding) even as an adult, writing has not been easy. In 6th grade I wanted to write well.  Sitting at the small oak desk in my upstairs bedroom where it was quiet, I wrote a few words on a loose-leaf paper.  Dissatisfaction crumpled the paper into a tight ball and hurled it across the room.  This was repeated over and over until I collapsed in a heap of despair and anger. With gritted teeth, I tried again only to leave my room defeated, carrying a waste paper basket full of unwritten words.

Only recently have I been able to trust that the words will come. Faith is about the search for truths.  Isn’t writing about truth too?  No wonder art is worship.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


There is a certain measure of responsibility that is passed down to the new owner of a car that comes with a name.  For almost a year now Sue-Baru has carried me and my family safely wherever I wanted to go.  Gripping her wheel through a downeaster, the roads barely visible or passable as I squint through the blowing snow, I encourage, “Sue, get me home.”  I never thought I would talk to a car, but it hold similar weight to talking to plants.  They both serve purposes and contribute to filling our lives.

This morning I dropped my brother off to church, parking in a little make-shift can barely be legal for handicapped accessibility.  There was little space to back out and avoid the back side of Sue to be exposed to busy Route 1. My head repeatedly swiveled toward all sides to maintain safety.  I inched back as to not catch her on the pink coping stone.  Inch. Inch. Then I hit something.  I looked back, looked in my mirrors, but could not identify what did not budge.  With my apparently, not so careful maneuvering, I hit a fire hydrant causing a puncture wound in Sue’s bumper.  My heart still aches for Sue.  I am so sorry.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Stranger?

I am home.  I am home.  And I daresay that I am mighty nostalgic about it all.  Everywhere I look, from the grate in a sidewalk where my grandmother warned me never to walk to a storefront glittered with trophies where I took baton lessons, I am filled with the wonder of memories.  They come at me from all sides. 

I am sitting in a cafe-writing.  Tucked in a stuffed chair, I face the sidewalk.  A mother and her daughter, arms loaded with books walk passed, their step light despite their weighty load.  They just came from the same library where I sat on the floor and opened book after book and smelled that library smell.  Where all whispers echo within the chambers of the MacArthur Library.

Strangers file by.  They are all strangers.  I recognize no one.  This city holds my memories among strangers.  Surely a comfort, but am I now the stranger?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Return

There sure is something comforting about coming home. Threads of constancy hold the unravelling through the years of changes. Change can be a bitter pill. My grandmother's house always a pale, soothing yellow is now white. The ancient chestnut tree out front has long been choked by asphalt. Some changes can be helped.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Run

I just wrote this based upon a one word prompt.  Run.  Not prone to writing fiction; I am attempting to break out.  Give it a try.

Ella poked her finger in the hole of her tights and tugged a bit until she heard the material give way. Her mother would yell at her. She was rough on clothes. Last week she wore a through her jeans sliding down Cannon Brook Falls.  This morning her mother nearly hog tied her, convincing Ella, a tom boy that dressing up can be magical. She watched the run travel up her leg; the end now a hole made larger by her finger.  Dressing up inhibited her movement. The tiny heels she wore made her wobble when she walked.  There was no way she could possibly run. However, she was able to hoist her strong lanky legs over the lowest branch of the tree and swing. She viewed the world from upside down.  She preferred it that way.  That is how the run began.  Once it started, it wouldn’t stop.

Ella, holding her one broken high heel shoe in her hand, she untangled her hair that fell over her face, as best as she could.  It was a lost cause.  Knotted.  Ella touched her swollen lip with her tongue and drew in the all too familiar taste.  Blood.  She sat on the pebble-like asphalt in the middle of the parking lot between two cars.  Taking a slow breath in, she looked down and noticed the run.  Her finger poked through the hole making it bigger.  Once it started, she knew there was no way to stop it.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Strawberries Wild

Sweet morsels
Stain my fingers
Too much squeeze
And a fragrant mash
Is the result.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life's Etchings

It has been nearly a decade since my husband held his father’s hand for the last time.  His father was an old Mainer set in his ways.  “You need a haircut!” were words for every boy and man whether he knew them or not. His thoughts no matter what they were would spill into the air. He was opinionated and stubborn, yet there was a soft side to this burly brisk man. 

 As soon as the children poured out of the car at camp, he scooped them into his arms and found a place to sit.  With food. One of his favorite places to sit was on the porch at camp.  His chair an old green plastic one was set at the head of the table. The table and chair situated just so to watch the comings and goings on the pond, affording a long view of water leading to the mountains.  With a child or sometimes two settled onto his lap, he sipped water while scooping ice cream or pudding into gaping mouths. The grand babies were assuredly sustained by love, food and camp.  Later, the children would line up to be flung into the air by his strong arms, little legs dangling, dragging to and fro through the cool water. The air pierced with squeals of delight beckoning a turn, “Grampy! Grampy!” On some days, the older grandchildren accompanied Grampy down the end of the pond taking turns with the oars. The orange life jacket hiked up beyond their oversized ears.  The boat trip often included releasing grumpy, loud bull frogs down to the far end of the pond so there could be some sleep from dusk and into the dawn,at least for one night.

When not by the water or chopping wood, Grampy would sit in his green chair at the grey formica table to sip coffee, whoop Grammy at Yahtzee and eat green pimento olives straight from the jar with a tiny delicate fork.  

Even after all these years since he left this world, the table and chair remain.  I rub my hand on the surface of the table where he sat.  The finish worn and scratched.  I feel a lifetime etched into this place, telling of a man who has created a legacy of traditions for generations to come.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Unsettling thoughts shift
Not forgotten
Worming their way
The structure 
My heart.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

things i carry

The path ahead mottled with light, I go forth; picking my feet up, stepping over roots and boulders from memory.  I have walked this before, yet each journey is anew.  I slow. I notice.  Early I focus on my surroundings, but once I move within, I am hopelessly lost.  Really?  Maybe it is the journey within that really matters.  It shores up the underpinnings.  Place carries me.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Loneliness magnifies sorrow
That things in life aren’t easier or just.
It is my dip into the disfunction
That compels me to seek refuge alone
I am alone.

Loneliness magnifies
The sorrow
I carry with me always.

I seek refuge.