we wait – impatiently – for the mornings we can sit outside against the house facing the sun with our coffee. we hike in our magical bristol woods and sit in the nature megaphone, out of the wind, facing the sun. we have sat on mountaintops facing the sun and on rocks beside the lake facing the sun. in canoes facing the sun and on pontoon boats facing the sun. at outdoor cafes facing the sun and squeezing into windowseats facing the sun. on the deck facing the sun and in the dirt of the trail facing the sun. on the beach facing the sun and by the pool facing the sun. we sit on adirondack chairs that we move around the yard facing the sun and we lay in the hammock that we also move around the yard facing the sun. we are the dr seusses of ‘facing the sun’ lingo.
i love the unicorn on the daily calendar wendy aka ben aka saul gave me, but the thing i really pay attention to are the words of wisdom it offers me day after day. sometimes it makes me laugh aloud; sometimes it makes me really think. later in the day i recall a bit of the message, but i can’t recall how the unicorn was standing or if it was flying or rearing up or ….
i think that’s the way with other similar images…like our CHICKEN MARSALA. CHICKEN is our little made-up boy, a cartoon, who showed up for the first many months of mondays as a part of this melange. CHICKEN always had a message morsel – a CHICKEN NUGGET – and it was that message that seemed to resonate with his audience.
taking some of those words of wisdom or expressions, i designed ‘words-only’ products (as well as products with CHICKEN MARSALA on them.) with the shopping season upon us and everyone seeking something unique as gifts, the next few weeks we’ll revisit some of those products so that you can see what you might have missed.
this is throw pillow week. you can find these by clicking on the box above or by clicking HERE. when you get to the society6 site, you will find these same simple images and lots of others – including images with CHICKEN MARSALA – on coffee mugs, travel mugs, laptop sleeves, phone cases, hoodies, t-shirts, tote bags, blankets, towels, coasters, even shower curtains. it was a blast designing all of these product lines. i hope that we can help you in finding just the right thing for someone special…or maybe even yourself.
happy holidays with love from me, david & chicken marsala.
i believe in inherent goodness. the inherent goodness of each and every person. born in beauty, walking in beauty. i blame my sweet momma. she looked this way at every single person who crossed her path.
but then, there’s the rest. predisposed psychological genetics. environment. social prejudices. bigotry. elitism. lack of empathy. the inability to walk in another’s shoes. the lack of wanting to try to walk in another’s shoes. some kind of warped misinformed yet embraced caste system. jealousy. bitterness. the web of ‘ugly’ has many faces. and people twist. and that inherent goodness seems to go underground. we wonder if there is, indeed, any goodness left. we are confronted with this question over and over again it seems, especially these days.
we had a discussion about goodness recently. it became heated. the dog left the room and retreated to the bathroom. we were intense. too intense. arguing for the same point, we came from two different directions, two different backgrounds. but we were heading, actually, in the same direction.
each of us carries our gift of inherent goodness. we choose each and every day whether we access it or not. my momma’s adherence to the adage, “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” often rings in my ears. we all make decisions each day; some steeped in good, some not so much.
as we approached the holidays and the end of the year, we were deeply diving into cleaning out. seems right at the end of the year. old boxes of random items that had accumulated in the years lived in this home, vestiges of life before, of life growing up, of goodnesses shown and received. we had so much fun as we cleaned; i’d show d pictures or mementos from places or people or the children, every one of them an opportunity for a story. some carried aha moments, some elicited sighs of where-does-the-time-go, some made me laugh or teary, some stopped me in my tracks.
i came across things from way-earlier-life, the time i had spent growing up on long island. my seagull collection, plastic seagulls suspended on wires attached to rocks or shells or pieces of cork, a 70s thing for sure. my horse collection, which was, in my mind, massive, but when i unpacked it was more like 15 horse statues and ribbons from showing in horse shows, drawings i had painstakingly drawn, books i pored over and over and studied at a much younger age. a doll collection with hand sewn or hand crocheted outfits made lovingly by my grandmother ‘mama dear’s’ hands. books and notebooks and old calendars. trinkets and rocks and feathers. cards and letters i saved for decades. artwork by the girl and the boy. little notes they wrote to me. an old electric typewriter and a case of 45rpm records we played the night we found them.
and then there are the reminders from a time i don’t talk about so much. a time when i became a #MeToo. it takes my breath away to think of that 19 year old girl. me – an idealistic, innocent, youngest-by-far child who looked at the world through poetic eyes and trusting-colored glasses. my heart breaks now for this young woman who found her way through a terrifying -and life-changing- time pretty much alone, seeking little help for an act that drove to her core and was more than difficult to voice in a late 1970s judicial system. because, you know, not everyone is good. not everyone holds their inherent goodness ahead of their selfish, controlling, violent behaviors. back then, counseling, and even prosecuting, was rare. i didn’t experience either one. the help of counseling nor the satisfaction of prosecuting this person who took away my belief and trust in goodness. for a time, fear coursed through me. my view of others became jaded and distrusting. i sought refuge in varying ways, but never really explained why to myself or others. i didn’t understand what caused this man to behave as he had, nor did i understand that it wasn’t mine to understand. what i do know, is that i grew.
and now, as our world opens their listening hearts to women and girls everywhere, i am grateful. grateful for their collective voices and the deserved help extended to them. grateful that even in giving individual voice, they are moving through the processing of it, the reason for being a #MeToo becoming smaller than #MeToo survival.
i was once told wise words from a friend when i was grieving my momma’s death. joan said, “the only way to get to the other side is through it.”
as i sort through all the pieces of life i have carried in boxes, in bins, in photographs, in my heart and soul, through all these years, i realize again that these words are so true. in so many situations, so many life arenas. the only way to get to the other side is through it. and then, you can find inherent goodness again.
in 414 miles our little scion’s odometer will read 195,000 miles. i have driven in it all but 250 miles of that, having bought it used-brand-new. every time we get in it for roadtrips, we pat the dashboard and say, “you go, little scion!” we tell it we believe it will easily travel to 300,000 miles, its little organic self saying, “iknowican, i knowican, i knowican.”
i have two cars. one is this little scion (the 2006 model that looks like a toaster.) the other is my 1971 volkwagen super beetle. i treasure both. my sweet momma and poppo ordered the vw new before they went to europe back in 1971 and drove it around europe for weeks, before shipping it back to the docks in ny (i still remember driving there to get it and bring it home.) in 1976 it became mine and has been a thread since then.
which brings me to our little scion. the xb is one of the un-fanciest cars out there. you had to pay extra (which i didn’t) to have armrests. there are no maplights; there are, however, blue lights which light up your feet – which makes me wonder in amusement what the good folks at scion were doing when they decided that was an important feature. these lights generally come in handy when you have new shoes and like to look at them a lot. or if you like the color blue. the radio display has various colors you can choose from – early mood radio, i’m guessing. regardless, i carry a handy-dandy flashlight, cause it’s pretty dark with few dashboard lights and no maplights.
so two cars. neither of them new. we are surrounded by people who are in retirement or planning ahead to retirement or are in a position to purchase new vehicles. all of them are lovely, with conveniences and style. yet, right now, we choose to padiddle along in our little scion and i can’t help but think about how this little car has been a part of my life, has served me, and now us, through the years.
it was there when i drove back and forth across the country, wholesale-ing my cd’s at shows, rascal flatts and phil vassar music blaring. it was there the day i took the girl to college, glowing pink with dorm-room-stuff. more importantly, it was there when i drove home, tears streaming down my face. it was there, but not glowing any particular color, when i took the boy to college and each time i drove all over the midwest to watch him play tennis. it was there, somehow getting me home from the airport in the early morning i flew home the day my daddy died; i have no recollection of that drive. it was there in every drive-straight-through to visit momma in florida, to be there in times of sickness, to celebrate her book release. it was there the day i got a text message while driving to florida that my sweet momma had died, keeping me safe as i steered to the shoulder. it was there bringing our adopted babycat home and it was there when dogdog became part of our life. it was there driving from the church to the beachhouse on lake michigan to celebrate our wedding and driving to the mountains of colorado for an amazing honeymoon. it was there when, somehow unnoticed prior to 186000 miles, the spark plugs and rings imploded right at the exit to a rest area, not too far from a dealership that immediately set to work on it so we could rush home to see the boy before he moved out east. with only five windshields (it has this propensity for attracting breakages), four sets of tires, and three sets of brakes, (and yes, new plugs and rings) it has moved the kiddos in or out of minneapolis, appleton, indianapolis, chicago, the high mountains of colorado. it looks a little worse for wear, a few dings and scratches, but who among us doesn’t? it was there in the snow, in ice and in sunshine, dutifully doing its little-scion-job.
so, talk about thready… i am attached to this little car. its un-fancy-ness makes me proud. it’s a workhorse, packs better than most vehicles its size, and has protected me and us for almost 200,000 miles. thready indeed.
about a year ago our church community made a decision to state in no uncertain terms that it is a “reconciling in christ” church. this was a momentous occasion, a brave declaration; the closest church of the same denomination that is also RIC is in the next town north, a location maybe a half hour away.
the language used to enter into the church bylaws was: “We acknowledge that throughout history the Christian church has at times condemned and excluded people because of race, culture, age, gender, economic status, disability or sexual orientation. While the church has made progress in being open to many groups, there continues to be condemnation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons from the community of faith, or at least, a tolerance of such condemnation and exclusion through silence. We believe such actions are inconsistent with Christ’s teachings. Trinity is a community of faith-keeping and faith-seeking people who affirm that every person has worth as a unique creation made in the image of God. We recognize, celebrate and give thanks for the many diverse gifts of God among us. We declare ourselves to be a Reconciling in Christ congregation, welcoming into the full life and ministry of the church persons of every race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and economic status. We commit to model a community of faith and spirit that works toward openness and understanding, offering justice, healing and wholeness of life for all people. We believe that through our diversity, all can grow and practice a unity of faith that transcends our differences.”
and i am so proud.
but it brings to mind some questions for me. this inclusivity and acceptance that we are “officially” announcing seems like a no-duh (for lack of a better term; it seems incongruous to me to attach flowery language to something so very basic) for a church community. it IS my understanding of a church community. what else could be more important than acceptance? what are we Actually learning from any religious organization’s underpinnings? why does it require bravery?
before i took the job of minister of music at our present church, i inquired about the attitude(s) around LGBT membership and involvement, within the church general membership and within staff and clergy. it was important to me – no, not important – it was vital to me that i would be at a place of inclusion where people did not draw boundaries because of race, sexual orientation, financial status… i would not attend a place where my own child would be looked down upon because of homophobic attitudes (read: fears.) even now i find it incredible that i would have had to ask this question, but i know better than to think that all churches are about loving all people. why do you have to be brave to say this?
some of my friends will leave this week to march in the women’s march in washington dc, taking place next saturday. i am unable to go to this, although i will march in my mind with them. i do feel like i step in this march everyday, however, because i believe in the equality of gender, the equality of people’s sexual orientation choices…equality period. as the mom of an amazing son who is gay, (see previous post: the right place) i wholeheartedly embrace his happiness, his inclusion, his bravery to live authentically, anywhere he goes. i embrace this for both of my children. why would i not generalize this to all people?
carol suggested that i enter my design using david’s painting and the text “women. we’ve got backbone.” for poster usage at this march. (see previous post: women. we’ve got backbone.) although this poster is not among the posters that will be distributed at this march, i do believe that this backbone is what will help grow and change the world in times moving forward. the active pursuit of what we feel is right. the active pursuit of what we feel is just. as women and as men who want to be proponents of equality and opponents of hatred we need to stand up – with backbone – and make sure that we are not voiceless.
that starts at home. in our own families. in our communities. in our churches. in our states. in our country. oh yes. in our country.
in today’s paper there was a brief article about “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-ga”) a danish word that means “the concept of coziness, the absence of worry.” it referred to sitting under blankets, gazing at a fire, watching the snow fall outside, lighting a candle, reading a book…all seem to embrace the moment, not obsessing or feeling guilty about the options we didn’t choose for those moments, but making a deliberate effort to self-care.
we are reading a book together. it is about the quaker way of life. we are only a few chapters in and i am stunned at how it resonates with me…living in the tenets of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality…quite frankly, the bottom line of the very takeaways i feel in any religious organization with which i have participated. i’ve been a minister of music for churches for about 27 years now, on and off through the years. and the bottom line for me in each of those places, the faith in my heart, is summed up best by the words i just listed. the love of each other in a community joined together by joy and common basic tenets for living.
coziness in the way it was described in the newspaper article speaks to that simplicity. coziness doesn’t come from too much stuff gathered around us…that would seem to beget confusion…instead the quilt, the fire, a simple candle, mother nature…the things that are right there waiting for us…are the things that bring me the most joy.
there is a quilt that came out of my hope chest (how’s that for an old-fashioned term?) that is now gracing our bedcovers. there is something magical about this quilt. we have other quilts as well and have used them, but for some reason, this quilt has brought us sound sleep, deep rest, a warmth that is unparalleled. i believe it came from my sweet momma’s mom – my mama dear, as we used to call her – and it is a combination of
handsewn work and machine seaming. it was created in a simpler time and maybe it’s that history that makes it magical. it is like sleeping at linda and bill’s house…in a quiet room, in an antique bed, under gorgeous old quilts…true indulgence. this old quilt on our bed is one of the joys in my life. simple stuff.
now, don’t get me wrong. i am one to definitely appreciate the things that this modern world offers us. the posting of this post is evidence of that. last night i was totally reliant on my cellphone as the girl traveled many hours through mountain roads in the cold night. when your (stubborn and fiercely independent) daughter is driving over mountain passes and there is snow and ice, the ability to have her check in with you is priceless – sending a text from points along the way, reassuring me that all was going well. and, like any mom, i would have fought to the carpet had someone taken away my cellphone during that. the moments that i can facetime with the boy or the girl are gifts beyond needing explanation. modern is good.
but i appreciate the balance and i feel, as i am getting older, more a desire for time spent in the simplicities.
i am finnish and norwegian (as well as irish and a little tiny bit of english) in ancestral background. as much as scandinavians sometimes draw lines of distinction, i am wondering if somewhere in there…is some danish….because i have to tell you, HYGGE really makes sense to me.
i cried at 2am when the girl texted, “wtf is happening, mom?” i couldn’t answer her.
i was as stunned as she was that our country was choosing to support someone with vile opinions of others, with judgment and condescending attitude and open hatred. a man who, for one, openly objectifies women, scorning those who don’t fit into his opinion of ‘worthy’ of his attention, laughingly taunting and excusing himself with “locker room talk” excuses. not to mention ridiculing disabilities, holding contempt for people with different religious beliefs, ignoring responsible ecological decisions for this planet to survive, and deriding the LGBT community thereby undermining the right of choosing who to love, who to commit to, and, ultimately, who to marry.
what is happening? what is happening to the people we are choosing to look up to? what are we valuing in those people? what are we ignoring? and, in ignoring, what are we ultimately de-valuing about others? what is happening to all the progress we have made as a country, inclusive measures that have been finally put in place, opportunity for all people to live in free, respectful ways, supportive of each other, concerned about each other, our world, and our earth?
one of the LLBean christmas catalogs came a few days ago. now, i usually love those catalogs – LLBean represents the northeast to me…the new england i love…a dedication to the outdoors. to being green. but this time? this time it reminded me of the catalog page i had just saved from the spring catalog.
i recently was going through the spring catalog because that is the one with all the bathing suit options. having not bought a bathing suit in at least maybe 10 years, the elastic on my favorite suit was doing that thing that elastic does when it gets old: stretches but doesn’t ever return to the ‘start’ position again…kind of crunchy…you can hear it as it stretches. and, in the hope of maybe heading to a beach or my sister’s pool one of these days, i had held onto the LLBean spring catalog. so I took out it out to shop for ideas.
i browsed through….
and this is what it said next to one of the $109.95 suits: “subtle shirring minimizes your hips and waist, while the draping helps camouflage figure flaws.”
what??? “figure flaws”???
now i decided to take a closer look…and nowhere….nowhere…did i find mention in the men’s section of bathing suits that this suit would “help to cover your well-earned beer gut” or that this hat would “help cover your flawed hairline”….nothing of the sort. no references to a figure flaw or camouflaging cover-up.
what on earth were you thinking, LLBean? how did this make it through your editing? on what planet is it appropriate for your catalog to push judgment onto women, making being a woman in this country even harder than it already is? why get behind goading us into thinking we must have the right body, the right look? and why are the “flaws” you so helpfully (read: disparagingly) refer to NOT the right body or the right look? why not celebrate differences in body, skin, shape….let’s bring that out further on the spectrum….life choices, truths….why not challenge the ridiculous and abundantly hurtful standard that actively –or passively- ridicules anything less than someone’s (whose??) idea of “perfect”? we must push back against this. in retail settings, in our homes, in our communities, in our country, in our leaders.
my sweet momma’s adage, that she lived by, reached across differences and embraced all. it reads, “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” (it is unknown who to credit this quote to.)
and now? more money, less waist (yes, this spelling), more stuff, less compassion, a bigger footprint on the earth, less mindfulness, more divisiveness, less unity, more self-absorption, less respect. are these the new adages? how can we be proud of these?
i guess I don’t need to be stunned by the presidential outcome, when our culture is out of balance. when companies like LLBean are making it entirely acceptable to hold women to a different standard than men. how many of those $109.95 bathing suits were sold?? how many women believed they were “flawed”? why did/do they believe that? and what would the new president-elect say about these “flaws”? de-valuing indeed.
out of balance.
when superficiality is more important than any other characteristic. when the book cover doesn’t really reveal the book. it’s not a far reach to generalize this to all differences. where does it go from there? where does it go from here? what are we ignoring? when our children and our children’s children have a person to (supposedly) look up to who is prejudiced and harsh, disrespectful and just plain mean.
i ask you this: if your son or husband or brother or father said these things or acted in this manner, what would you say or do? would you stand by in silence? where does the line of speaking up start?
it starts here. how dare you, LLBean. you should be ashamed. the girl is right. wtf is happening?
we took the back roads home from indiana. we are #backroadpeople as many chances as we can get. with a slice of miles of highway on each end, we bookended farm fields and small towns, tall brown corn stalks, tractors, farmhouses and barns that looked like old schoolhouses. we were in our glory and happy to avoid the plethora of orange barrels and one-lane distractions on the interstate.
we stopped at a bp station in watseka, illinois to get gas. i pulled up and was surprised by the young man (uh-oh, i am definitely getting older) who came to the window to ask if he might help us. now if i were in new jersey, i wouldn’t have been surprised…they pump the gas for you there – it’s a law. but wisconsin and illinois and indiana? no such law. we asked to “fill it up, regular” – words i hadn’t uttered in decades and he politely took our credit card and started to pump the gas. moments later, we were further stunned when he came around the front of the car to clean the windshield. yes! clean the windshield. what??
when he was done, i told this really polite young man that it had been decades – literally decades – since someone had cleaned the windshield while my gas was pumping. i asked if all the stations in town did that. he replied that it was just this one. his boss had owned the station for years and years and that was how he did it “in the old days” so he “wanted it to stay that way.” amazing! the gas was no more expensive than any other station in that little town, so he was absorbing the extra cost. it made all the difference to us. a little old-fashioned goodness. perfect.
a couple of days ago the girl texted that she had carved pumpkins. the time spent on designing and carving out a face on a jolly orange pumpkin is pure joy…not to mention the pumpkin seeds, if you bake them. a little old-fashioned goodness.
two days ago the boy sent me a text that said, “making apple pie.” i was amazed! he later sent a picture to prove it. it was scrumptious looking. a little old-fashioned goodness.
the boy and the girl brought me to an enormous bank of memories i got lost in…all the fall things…apple-picking, pumpkin farms, hayrides, bonfires, marshmallows, crunching leaves under your feet, walking in the woods, pie-making, big sweaters and boots, the return of slipper-nights, the smell of burning leaves, hot cocoa…
there’s this fall thing i experience every year…a melancholy…
…i find myself spending time recalling long island falls: time in the car driving upstate to apple farms with my mom and dad, time picnicking in a park out east surrounded by the colored leaves my mom adored, time after school on the couch drinking tea and eating chips ahoy cookies after school with my sweet momma, apple-pie-making and cookie-making with friends, pumpkin-carving, leaf-raking, costume-rummaging, candy-gorging, by-the-fire-sitting, the waning sun, the days the sky and the sound were the same color…
and time when the boy and the girl were little: the trips to jerry smith’s pumpkin farm, apple pies, baseball and soccer games under blankets, sewing to the last second to get costumes done and later, scrounging to the last second to get costumes put together), the squishing of feet into old boots, the new snowsuit jacket quests, the hunts for matching mittens and gloves in all the places they may have gone…it’s all the old-fashioned goodness stuff….
the old-fashioned goodness stuff….not the stuff of the past, but i think the stuff that the past has taught us…the stuff that warms us, comforts us, renews us, makes us whole…
i’d write more, but i’m feeling the need to go make an apple pie, carve a pumpkin and light the fire. a little old-fashioned goodness. perfect. gotta go.
he said it to me every time i left the house or hung up the phone…”don’t get losted, brat.” i smile every time i think of this and i talk to him. i know he can hear me. i’m not sure if he is saying anything back, but i’m sure he’s there. my poppo taught me so much…i find myself quoting him often, using the knowledge that he somehow conveyed to me, even when i didn’t know that i was absorbing it (ie: listening.) he was a real rube goldberg kind of fixer….he could fix anything. i find myself trying to follow his lead. every time i fix something or devise some sort of daddy-o kind of method i say, “my daddy would be proud!” he’d be 96 today. he would be an awesome 96. and i wish that he and david could hang out together, because david would have loved him. no doubt.
today is also my mom and dad’s anniversary. (momma married daddy on his birthday “so he wouldn’t forget”.) they would have been married 73 years today. “wow-ee,” she would have said. i celebrate their love, their joy with each other, their tenacity, their patience, their steadfastness, their being-my-parents.
last week was our anniversary. the first. kind of odd when you consider our ages. it’s been a fast year. it’s been forever since that day. what is it about Time?
with early morning steaming mugs of strong coffee, we walked to the rocks to watch the sunrise over the lake. there is nothing like a sunrise to make you feel alive in the morning. we had wanted to watch it the day of our wedding, but we were both exhausted from five days of great fun with family and friends who had gathered around us and we missed it in lieu of warm blankets and a few more minutes sleep.
sitting there, we decided that we wanted to catch the sunrise every anniversary from now on…to welcome in a new year of adventures, a new year striated with sun and clouds and blue sky and grey days, warm air and freezing toes…new years to come and past years to celebrate.
later that anniversary morning, we sat on the deck and read our wedding aloud to each other. the readings, the poems, our roadtrip email entries, our vows. we are both, as it turns out, pretty ritualistic so this was powerful stuff. if you ever want to really remember why you got married, i’d recommend doing this. there is nothing like threading together.
this morning we talked over coffee. we talked about the last few years and the stuff of them. the ups and downs that we rode together, the joys and sorrows we felt together, the easy stuff and the hard stuff. we celebrated dogdog and babycat laying on the bed together with us. we talked about our anniversary. about what is actually important to us in this world. and what’s not. and today….about my momma and my daddy.
and about one sure thing…that we both know…
together…hanging on tight…just like momma and poppo…we won’t get losted.