Christmas came early this year. My younger daughter took me shopping on a Thursday afternoon, and I bought 2/3rds of the gifts for my family and close creators for under $10 each.
An achievement.
I had plans for the balance of the list and this I came very close to doing in one day in the next week.

Then, I sat down, listed these accomplishments and left planning room for wrapping and cards.
The wrapping and cards are important to me. The books had been wrapped at Borders, but the other small gifts needed containers, something to make them look a little bigger!

And then winter stepped in these past days, making even walking from a car a careful matter.
The newscasters said very clearly, “If you don’t have to go out today, stay home!” I watched the weather reports and saw that by Tuesday, Dec. 23rd, it would surely be melted and warm enough to venture out, taking my age and physical condition in account.

So, yesterday I made plans to go out first thing this morning, Dec.
23rd, and look for small woven
baskets, maybe a big mug or large wine glass. ….something to make my small gifts look bigger.
I only had to find six of one sort or another.

These days before Christmas have been full of unexpected phone calls, last minute situations, the usual pre-holiday moments of life. Okay, these only added some zest to being confined inside because of the weather, which in itself has not been anywhere as difficult as say, Concord, New Hampshire, or Portland, Maine. By yesterday afternoon, I was on track with my planning.

Now, in this story , it’s still yesterday. Around 4 p.m., I walked into my warm bathroom to hang some laundry to dry. As I turned to go out, a calendar on the wall caught my eye. I have seen this calendar every day for the past year. It was one of my favorite gifts from last year:
THE ART OF ORNAMENT, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Some angel must have been at my shoulder, for in that moment, I had found a solution for my “bigger” problem.

As the light was fading, I sat by my window, made pouches of each month’s art assortment from that calendar,
slipped the small gifts in each one, and VOILA ! I HAD FOUND MY CONTAINERS. At this point, yesterday, I was grateful for the inspiration, I liked the results, and I had supper, watched C-SPAN and went to bed.

This morning, Dec. 23rd, I awoke, made coffee, and I glanced at the foot of my bed where my gifts were piled, ready to now add the cards. I stood there in astonishment. Those art pouches were so beautiful.

The end and beginning of this story is that beauty can be found suddenly at hand. I have only to recognize it and allow its presence.


W-I-N-T-E-R, brrrr!

“Today is gray and cold. Soon the ground will be frozen solid, the grass covered with early snow. Everything will grow quiet in the cold’s embrace.

What is wrong with feeling joy in this clout of cold? When something’s over, it’s over — no doubt, no turning back, no illusion.

This is true for great losses in life. A clean acceptance of them is finally freedom. The slow recovery from grief is a winter season of sleep, of rest and allowing things to be. It is trusting, rather, that ‘what is’ just now will move us to ‘ what can be’.

Joy and loss are together. Loss cauterizes, and grief , when fully accepted, opens us to new life, to a mysterious, inexplicable joy.”

……….GUNILLA NORRIS, from her book, A Mystic Garden.

The darkness begins early these days before the winter solstice.
It is creating a day within a day for me. I want to go to sleep earlier, only to awake in the early hours of the next day. I have created this time to be another ‘day’.

I get up, roam around, straighten out a few things, eat a half-slice of buttered honey on bread. I feel no pressure of time, rather I’ve chosen to let go of calling it ‘sleeplessness’ and now greet it with curiosity. Where will I end up, —what will I do?

Well, not a lot of doing, for sure.
In this ‘day-time’ I’ve chosen to spend it with you.
When you awake you may not remember.

with love, Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette


Today is my 90th birthday. It might seem confusing since I have been celebrating
this birthday for several days now. On Saturday, 19 of my family, across three
generations including four great-grandsons, took me out to Taquila Nightingale
for dinner.

Poetry or the lyrics of songs always accompany any occasion in this family of
assorted creatives. Just now I pulled out a birthday folder of 2 poems and Lizzie’s
comments following each. I intended to share one poem by Pablo Neruda,
closely related to my own art,when I noticed Lizzie’s comment on the first poem:

“The first line made me think of you — and how often I say to

you that I long for you to fall in love with yourself, to

remember who you are —in your startling beauty and passion.

I push this —and this poem made me realize there is no need

to push this. It happens. It happens. We find that love

when we find it — and until then —we are held in our knowing,

held in patient, loving arms, held in our troubled sleep —

held in our darkness — held in the mountains.”

Here is that first poem:


There is one memory deep inside you,
in the dark country of your life.
It is a small fire burning forever.

Even after all these years
of neglect
the embers of what you have
known rest contented
in their own warmth.

Here in the mountains,
tell me all the things
you have not loved.
Their shadows will tell you
they have not gone,
they became this night
from which you drew away in fear.

Though at the trail’s end,
your heart stammers
with grief and regret
in this
final night
you will lead down at last
and breathe again on the
small campfire of your
only becoming.

And draw about You
the immensity
of the black sky
which loves your fire’s

The deep shadow
that forever
you in its arms.

The low song
of the long
and patient night
that holds you
in your sleep

and stitches
with that impossible light
the dark blanket
from which you were born.”


Lizzie ended with ‘held in the mountains’, the mountains of memory
for us being the Catskill mountains in New York State.

I love the next to last stanza: ‘the low song of the long and patient
night that holds you in your sleep,’ —- recalling the sound sleep of
youth and memories of each annual trip up to the “country mountains”.

Thank you, one and all, who are sharing this journey with me.

with love …