The years before my daughters became grandmothers were full of
folk song, blue grass, walking barefoot and bra-less. One particular
song from that time is playing in my mind because of a whole page
in a poetry book.

The book is a hard cover piece of art, attractive because it entices
me to turn the page and hope the next page will be grounded
enough for me to understand and say to myself, “Oh, I know that!”

These are all the lines on that page:

you carried an umbrella
because you thought it would rain

it didn’t

but I love your optimism


How rich! How full of the puddles that follow the rain, reflecting the
suddenly clear, cloud-scudding sky. How awesome to love rainy

The song was, ” rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”

How come I’m smiling? Nostalgia, possibly. Maybe because it’s
good to allow how much time has softened memory and rainy days
stretch, just stretch. There’s time to really breathe. Now, about
the poetry book I mentioned above, it needs a bit of handling
with pages loved and its hard-cover worn down to lie open. The
book is “count me the stars” by Kylie Johnson.

The sudden rain was good yesterday.

with love …


“Blue skies,
… smilin’ at me,
Nothing but
Blue skies
do I see.

Blue days,
all of them gone,
nothin’ but blue skies
from now on.”
Back in my college days on the Penn campus, you’d find
me striding along, that refrain ringing in my head. To be
an art student in my teens and twenty’s was the best.

I was brought back to that memory of blue skies recently.

Story: I am part of a small group of persons committed to
self-search, with the intention of self-responsibility. We had
had a talk of some depth, and I had left the room and sat,
idly looking at a photograph on a wall near me.

I was sorting out feelings that the work had stirred up, and
as I sat, looking at this art photo of a western canyon, I saw
a triangle of blue sky in the upper right corner that was
blazing and amazing.

The intense beauty of that blue sky lifted me, figuratively,
out of my personal preoccupation and into a place of such
eagerness for the experience of just being alive that I
started to laugh out loud. Talk about a shift in perspective!
I shared that when I went back to our group.

We met again last weekend, and my friend, the photographer
who had taken that picture, surprised me with a print of that
canyon photo.
His words were, “Here is your piece of blue sky, Toni .”

Do you hear that? Can you imagine anything more loving
and hopeful than that spontaneous reminder of “blue skies,
smiling at me, nothing but blue skies, do I see.”

with love …


I’ve just put down the artist’s book, True Nature, by Barbara Bash.
It’s been my summer daily practice to read a page or two each
morning, first thing.

Right now, this morning, I have left the page where the artist, alone
in the dark woods at night, has summoned the courage to simply
stay there for the moment.

I have had to pause, also, and allow her to be there, not pressing
forward in pages to where she would be out of the woods,
in the clear.

So, here I am. I’ve put the book down as the dawn emerged
outside my window. It’s the Fall Equinox, the end of summer and
the start of Autumn; change of season, change of view. As I sat
there, I looked over at the bookcase, opposite me, and noticed
that I can see the clear under-sides of the shelves as they go up
toward the ceiling.

The higher the go, the more I can see, …they seem so much
deeper. By the time I reach the top shelf, the underside looks
like the sky! There’s a lot more space up on that top shelf than
I had realized.

Is that what expanding consciousness is about, more room at
the top? A sense of those quiet, empty spaces, the underside of
each shelf gave me a new perspective, the art supplies that
crowd the shelves no longer the practical focus.

Today does feel different. I feel quiet, a bit at sea, a real pause.
Maybe all I had to do was share this with you for me to step into
Autumn, a new season, a new beginning.

From where I’m sitting, that looks really empty and full of promise.

with love …


“I love java, sweet & hot, I love the coffee from the coffee pot!
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, m-m-m-m-m-
java and me, a cuppa, cuppa, cuppa cup of coffee!” Yeah!

That refrain, from an old mid 20th century song, echoes in my
mind as I awaken shortly after 5 a.m. Actually, I stumble across
the room to the bathroom to empty my bladder, and as I sit on the
‘throne’, that’s what’s front and center as I try to decide whether
to fully awaken and make that pot of coffee, or can I really go
back to bed and fall into another round of sleep.

That is the privilege of retirement. Years of having to be up and
ready to be productive have been worth the effort, and it’s now
my choice.

The question has been asked, “What happens in the bathroom?”

I thought briefly of leading you down the garden path of the ‘trips’
I find myself taking as I pause at any time of the 24 hours to use
the bathroom. My plan was to relay to you a tale of trips made
as if they had actually taken place, and then end by revealing
it’s only me, in my mind, in the bathroom, facing my calendars on
the wall, with pictures of far-away places. I love that. It would be
fun, but on second thought, not a good idea. Cancel that.

My bathroom is quite utilitarian. No color coordination, no shelves
of delightful fresh towels, no concession to making the bathroom
anything other than what it was designed for.

Yet, in that ordinary place, I have found myself lost in contemplation
of the tile floor, it’s mottled surface the source of much delight as
I glimpse faces all over portions of the floor. There is one Dickens
character over by the bathtub whom I ignore because he is so grumpy.
Maybe you have your own place of “seeing things”, like in the clouds,
or in a pool of water, or the half-empty tea cup.

Where do we go, in those moments?

I believe we have each created a library of impressions, odd notes
like sketches idly kept in piles, too precious to throw away. They
spring up from the sub-conscious (unconscious?) because of the way
the light falls on anything near, outdoors or indoors, and away we go,
on our own trip of imagination.

Time pauses, doesn’t it, in those moments. Yesterday my friend Dianna
spoke of a whole day in which time took on a slower dimension, one
of contemplation and a greater sense of clarity. I noticed that, one by
one, others responded to her noticing this, with perceptions of their own.

I can see that I have wandered away from the core of that question,
“What happens in the bathroom?”. I will have to come back to that
another day.

with love …


Some of us felt a great wind blow recently when hurricane Irene swept up the
East Coast. We called it a “clean-up” and proceeded to restore order within
which we can continue.

Part of that experience was the care neighbor gave to neighbor, family to
family, and we came together even feeling some relief that we now had a
reason to share, to let go of routine, and reach out where help was needed.

It felt good to do that.

Today I can remember that morning ten years ago today when, what felt like a
usual day became a huge wake-up call for us here, not just on the East Coast,
but across the country, creating a change of course, and opening us to
the awareness of just how much we do care for each other.

That feels good, too.

Oddly enough, this past week has found friends and family moving across
the country for our change of season back-to-school trips, birthdays or
weddings, reunions, or even showing up for celebrations that champion
how much we all have moved forward.

I want to welcome back from Texas my friend, fellow-artist and gifted massage
therapist, Gail Bernson, who will be here for a few weeks in her home town of
Norwalk and can be reached by phone at 832-405-9101. A session with Gail
is a gift to yourself.

If you’re looking for a last hurrah for summer just gone, you might try this link:
www.patch.com and click on your town.

Somehow no poem showed up to be with us today. Maybe tomorrow.

with love …


Anyone, who has emptied the refrigerator recently and refilled it
with the essentials, will recognize a sense of permission to
simplify. The hurricane/tropical storm thrust us into emergency
activity and displacement from which we are now emerging.

Some of us, perhaps many of us, not totally back yet.

Well, there’s that word, ‘back’.

It always surprises me that I have not really ever experienced
‘back’. Mostly, it’s “on to the next wave”, isn’t it? Like this poem,
quoted in part:

“Consider the bellringer
as one of us,
attempting some
magnificent difference in the world,
far above
and far beyond
the stone-closed
we seem to occupy.

we’re all
effort, listening
wilful concentration,
like a moving sea,
another power
for a moment
the whole burden
lifts us
against our will,
lets us find
in the skyward pull
a needed antidote
to surface noise,
a gravity against gravity,
another way to hear
the clamor of the heavens.”

from his book of poetry, River Flow.

I have refrained from turning on the TV for the news,
first thing. I’ve allowed a space for another kind of
‘practice’, a pause to contemplate this new day.

Last Wednesday, I was displaced to my daughter’s
place and awoke, later than usual, to the blazing clear
skies of sunshine and clearing. I stood at the door to
the back lawn, in amazement at the beauty of order.

At home, I would have ordinarily plunged into activity
as usual. This glimpse of beauty was a gift of the
hurricane ‘Irene’, … a needed antidote to surface
noise, … another way to hear amid the clamor of
the heavens.

with love …