All night,
up, counting the hours of sleep,
and the likelihood of falling back asleep and waking up after 8 a.m.
when it would be too late to turn off the computer,
the printer,
the phone,
the TV.

Would coffee be warm enough?

Could I wait to shower,
what if I simply slept through,
waking when I felt rested,
stretching, waiting for another glance out the window
to the bare trees
shining in the sun?

In 3 minutes it will be 5 a.m.

How have I spent the time since 2 a.m.
when I decided to do the crossword
puzzle to get me back to sleep?

What about the CD that I want to start?
Can’t do it, it’s too dark.

What about these weeks when I have been so into these end of year holidays that I have
a poetry book?

Where have you all been, too?

All of this because ‘they’ will be installing a generator in our building today, starting at 8 a.m.

No electricity, no heat,
all turned off for at least 3 hours.
Maybe more.

Why is it so difficult, so challenging to approach this disturbance?
What must I think I must prepare for?

I will enjoy those hours putting my pastels back in good order.

So, when I send this off to you all,
I’m turning off the computer,
stranding myself voluntarily
rather than having it imposed on me.

Well, look at this.
It brought me back to where
I love to be,
in touch with you.

always 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 …


Sometimes three a.m. is a good time for some watermelon,
a half-slice spelt bread, spread thinly with strawberry jelly,
and, yes, coffee. Then, casually open the book on poetry.

Here’s what I found:

“S O M E H E R O N S

A blue preacher
flew toward the swamp,
in slow motion.

On the leafy banks,
an old Chinese poet,
hunched in the white gown of his wings,

was waiting.
The water
was kind of dark silk

that has sliver lines
shot through it
when it is touched by the wind

or is splashed upward,
in a small, quick flower,
by the life beneath it.

The preacher
made his difficult landing,
his skirts up around his knees.

The poet’s eyes
flared, just as poet’s eyes
are said to do

when the poet is awakened
from the forest of meditation.
It was summer.

It was only a few moments past the sun’s rising,
which meant that the whole long sweet day
lay before them.”


So, this whole, long, sweet day lies before us.
Let’s remember to be there.

with love …


The voices that I hear with a full heart are those of affirmation
rather than struggle. Langston Hughes had such a voice:

“I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow
of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the MIssissippi when Abe Lincoln went
down to New Orleans and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn
all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”


I was not part of that struggle; I was not aware until late in
life that these words were the words of my ancestors.
I can notice how deeply grateful I am to have been given
so much to live up to. No longer separate, one of many.

with love …


Hello again. It’s been a while, and many group physical changes
have required being present in a tunnel-like way. And I have new
So, this morning
I have chosen a curious poem by Mary Oliver:


“Salt shining behind its glass cylinder.

Milk in a blue bowl. The yellow linoleum.

The cat stretching her black body from the pillow.

The way she makes her curvaceous response to the small,
kind gesture.

Then laps the bowl clean.

Then wants to go out into the world

where she leaps lightly and for no apparent reason
across the lawn,

then sits, perfectly still, in the grass.

I watch her a little while, thinking:

what more could I do with wild words?

I stand in the cold kitchen, bowing down to her.

I stand in the cold kitchen, everything wonderful around me.”

……………………..MARY OLIVER, 1991-1992

It took a second reading for me to see that here, too,
there are new windows. From one line to the next (the last),
a leap of awareness.

As easy as that.

with love …


Well, another round of snow outside. Doesn’t look as if it will give us a day off,
but it does remind me of a paragraph from a book:

“There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine.

Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations,

performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules.
And unlike illness, it is largely a corporate rather than individual experience.

One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and

surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite

to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview. All those affected

this way are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and

unexpectedly a little giddy. There will be no apologies needed for not

showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and

shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the

pressure to produce makes the heart merry.”

………………..WM.PAUL YOUNG, from his book, The Shack.

It’s not yet dawn, so who knows what today’s fall-out from the skies
will bring! However, if not today, we can bet on someday soon.
I do appreciate how the snow from last week is still white and abundant.
……. and beautiful.

with love …


I had some cut-up pears just now, and I watched my hand spoon up
the fruit, and was amazed to be so reminded of the summer, to
see the freshness of the pear. Right before me is a small book of
poetry, recalling, in another way, the summer into fall that has led,
now, to winter.

From that book:


Light wakes us — there’s the sun
climbing the mountains’ rim, spilling across the valley,
finding our faces.
It is July,
……….. between the hay and harvest,
a time at arm’s length from all other time,
the roads ragged with meadowsweet and mallow,
with splays of seedheads, slubbed and coarse, rough linen.
The fields above the house, clotted with sheep all spring,
are empty now and froth with flowering grasses,
still in the morning light. Birds move around
the leafy fields, the leafy garden.

It is the time
to set aside all vigil, good or ill,
to loosen the fixed gaze of our attention
as dandelions let seedlings to the wind.
Wake with the light.
Get up and go about the day and watch
its surfaces that brighten with the sun.
Remark the weight of your hands,
your foot in its sandal,
the lavender’s blue hum.

And later, when the light is drowsed and heavy
go find the burdened fruit trees where the shade
lies splashed and opened-out across the ground.
Spread over it a quilt worn soft by other bodies,
then curl and fall down into sleep in light.

Awaken to a world of long, loose grass-stems,
and leaves above,
and birds, breaking out of the leaves.”

…………… KERRY HARDIE, an Irish poet.

Such poems cannot disturb a Thursday morning
nor distract us from the intent to ‘produce’ of a
Monday morning.
It is practically the weekend, another snowfall
on its way, and we dream this July dream as
we fall asleep of an early evening in January.

always with love,


I carefully pick and choose my inspirational sources, workshops,
poetry, diet clues. This can be serious business, yes, business
is the word, isn’t it?

So, when I come across a poem that frees me totally from these
aids and compulsions, I treasure it, very simply:

And the people slipping on the ice in the street,
two different people
came over, goin to work,
so earnest and tryful,
clutching their pitiful
morning Daily News
slip on the ice & fall
both inside 5 minutes
and I cried and cried
That’s when you taught me tears, Ah,
God in the morning.
Ah, Thee
And me leaning on the lamppost wiping
nobody’d know I’d cried

or woulda cared anyway
but O I saw my father
and my grandfather’s mother
and the long lines of chairs
and tear-sitters and dead,
Ah me, I knew God You
had better plans than that
so whatever plan you have for me
Splitter of majesty
Make it short
Make it snappy
bring me home to the Eternal Mother
At your service anyway,
(and until) ”


I’m not sure that I know whether I cry to laugh
beyond limit, or cry to stay within decent limit.
The result is the same. I am transported out of the
mind’s response and into the intuitive charm of
the absurd which comes very close to being in
touch with (divine) wisdom.

In any event, we ARE at your service anyway
(and until) .

with love …


I discovered a gift totally by accident this morning.
To share that, here’s a clue that made this possible.
It’s a quote from the incredible book, “POETIC MEDICINE,
The Healing Art of Poem-Making” by John Fox.

“As the traditional medicine of many peoples demonstrates,
disease can be treated with images.
The patient, for her part, needs to see the images of her
healing, just as any of us in distress might look for the
stories and images wrapped in our complaints.

But she shouldn’t bring them too close to her, making
them too close to her, making them too personal,
or they will break apart.

We can only approach the gods through poetry,
and if the disease is the disguise of the gods,
then our medicine will be full of art and image.”


ART AND IMAGE, the very stuff of my Inner Portraits!
I sat here and wrote down, without pause or editing,
the understanding of the gift of my ‘gift’.

Here it is:

An Inner Portrait, to be so close …
I open myself to you, sitter, utterly,
and desire nothing from you.

Imagine the delight of being close,
to be in the presence of another and to have
the peace and clarity of no desire except
that of witnessing your beauty and giving you
the gift of insight, maybe.”

I could edit that by saying ‘sharing with you’
instead of ‘giving you’. I said “without pause
or editing” and so I’ve typed it as it was.

If I could believe I could write poetry, I’d
be able to say what joy this brings to me,
to actually see what I do in this light.

with love …


I have not spoken here, yet, of the experience of our family when we finally
welcomed our ancestor from obscurity, ours the re-discovery to create
openings in how, now, I see my world.

Look at that!
I started the sentence with the voice of ‘we’, and found myself in an ‘I’.
I can say that describes my shift: out of the ‘we’, the group of us,
I could feel my own presence more flexibly.
What a surprise.

A poet sums it up:

“We did not come to remain whole.

We came to lose our leaves like the trees,

The trees that are broken

And start again, drawing up from the great roots.”

…………….. ROBERT BLY.

Last Sunday we dedicated the headstone that told of his life and death,
135 years ago, my great -grandfather, Dr. James McCune Smith, buried
in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY.

His roots were great, and our coming together showed me how, unknowing,
each of us has carried on his heritage in some way of living, of being with
courage in the world.

LIke the white doves that were released to open the dedication,
I feel a freedom I had not known I sought. I welcome our new cousins,
and love that we do look as if we came from the same roots!

And so it is.

with love …