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the view from my pillows. [two artists tuesday]

every morning.

every morning this is the view from my pillows.

after coffee, after breakfast, after hugging on dogga snuffling in our faces, after the weather app, after a littabittanews…my sturdy old laptop and our quilt.

i know that not everyone wants to read all these words. i know that many will do much to avoid it. i know that – in the grand scheme of things – my blahblah doesn’t really matter much. sometimes there are responses, comments from people, questions, validations, pushbacks. sometimes people ask if we have a patreon account or a way to donate a cup of coffee. that there is someone out there who takes time to write a few words back at all is pretty gigantic. because in today’s world, there are an inordinate number of things – out there – one could choose to read, to watch, to listen to.

but i guess it all doesn’t matter.

because i have found – now – that i write for me.

writing each morning – this practice – makes me think and ponder and rehash and sort. it is a caffeinated burst in the day, a jump-start to everything that will follow.

sometimes it is a walk into a bank of memories, complete with tears or laughter.

sometimes it is a wondering for the future, attempting to connect the dots of constellations i have yet to see.

sometimes it is a rant about the world, the country, the community, things i perceive as wrongdoings.

sometimes it lifts others up, those who levitate our spirits and souls with generosity.

sometimes it is with amazement for what we see and hear and taste and smell – out there – in nature and on this good earth.

always it is with a sense of impermanence.

these words will stay on the page, so to speak, for as long as wordpress allows them to. they will eventually fade as more words will enter the big melting pot of written thoughts.

our writings will lift off someday into the atmosphere. they will float around, bouncing off stars and planets – like the silver balls in a pinball machine. maybe they will leave a little something behind, a touch of evanescent dust that someone will see and remember.

the other night – around 2:30am – we heard the owl. outside our window, the great horned owl spoke into the night. it didn’t know if anyone was listening. but we did. we listened. we heard it call. and for its unspoken spoken words, we were grateful. we will remember.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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here, he gazes north. [d.r. thursday]

on island he gazed south. here, at home, he gazes north.

it doesn’t matter that there are inches of snow piles on the deck. ever the snowdog, he lays in it, relishing the cold, and gazes north. i wonder what he is thinking.

dogga is rarely still. he seeks the bark-back of other dogs in the ‘hood, standing in the middle of the backyard. he runs around the opposite-traffic-circle sign, around the pond, to the fence, then the other. scoping out, trying to get the attention of simply any other canine.

but there are those moments, in the middle of his self-initiated fray, that he is quiet and still and he poses, like the lions “patience” and “fortitude” flanking the front of the new york public library. “patience” and “fortitude” have been trademarked and are featured in the logo and all of the library’s marketing shenanigans. perhaps dogdog is the branding of our backyard, of our home. gazing north. or – simply – gazing.

for we, too, are gazers. we sit and ponder. we gaze and wonder. we watch the backyard change seasons as we change seasons.

the other day dogga was laying on the bed when i walked into the bedroom. i sat down next to him, his wagawag-tail thumping. i told him all the stuff i was thinking about, because isn’t that one of the reasons we HAVE dogs?

he listened. thump. listened. thump thump thump.

he did not solve anything. he did not answer any of my questions nor did he ask any questions. he did not agree or disagree. he did not argue for reason. he just listened. with patience and fortitude.

were i to lay in the snow with dogdog on the back deck gazing north perhaps i would also have more patience and fortitude in this season of time. at the very least, i would be in the best of company.

*****

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blather. [merely-a-thought monday]

though the alpaca is considered to be a docile creature, it can get spitting mad. i suspect that if one were to flip “look, i get it” over to an alpaca, it could get a rise out of the lanky, fuzzy one. intelligent and observant, alpacas are known for their quiet. their nonverbal behaviors and the sounds they make belie what could be thought of as non-emotive. on the contrary, they communicate their concern and stress, affection and indignation. linda’s alpaca are a tiny herd among themselves and are magical to watch. i did not toss “look, i get it” over to any of them, knowing it would insult their intelligence and likely make them a bit snarly, as really anyone to whom that is tossed – in any way other than joshing around – should likely feel.

“look, i get it” is just like the expression “i’m sorry you feel that way”. neither is true empathy. both are dismissive. the quickest way to damage a relationship is to wing “look, i get it” over just as someone is telling you something deeply important. or, in a leadership position – let’s just saaaaaay – to flippantly respond “i’m sorry you feel that way” to an employee who has clearly been wronged by some circumstance(s) or policy-thwart. in their succinctly powerful way, inc. magazine has come through again in an article written by jason aten. he states when you say “i’m sorry you feel that way” (or “we apologize for any insensitivity” or any other variation on the theme) you are “trying to absolve yourself of any kind of responsibility or fault for whatever went wrong.” he adds that the (respectful, compassionate, mission-driven) company instead say, “i am really sorry that we didn’t live up to our promise. i know that is so frustrating. here’s what i’m going to do to try and make it right.” mmhmm. my personal experience would suggest that doesn’t always happen.

and “look, i get it”??? bill murphy, jr. in another inc. magazine column calls it a sign of “low emotional intelligence”. i would have to concur. just because they are words – individually and as a sentence: look, i, get and it – doesn’t mean they should come out of one’s mouth at a moment of import. there are a hundred ways to say everything we are trying to say. and sometimes – and we are all guilty of this, including me – we need to take a moment or two before the sentence hits the talk bubble outside our lips.

perhaps this is why alpaca are considered so intelligent. they are quiet, discerning critters who are affectionate and gentle but don’t spew emotionally-disconnected blather.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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looking glass falls. [k.s. friday]

there is no limit to how long you can stare at rushing water. cool mist enveloped us as we stood there, watching. in the land of 250 waterfalls, we, as even babbling-stream appreciators, stood and took in this gorgeous sight.

it is unusual for us to be in the midst of many people these days, even outside. yet, here we were, transfixed by the looking glass falls, along with at least thirty other carsful. everyone, with different accents and languages, exchanged greetings on the way up or down the rock steps. everyone was smiling. everyone was kind. the waterfall brought us all together before we parted and looked for the unbeaten path, the trail in the woods, the less-trod, less-populated places that would be quiet. in those moments of togetherness, though, the sheer force of the water spilling over granite seemed to be a cleansing balm to anything that would keep us all separate.

we stood still on looking glass rock trail the next day, just listening to the stream below us. a hiker jaunted by us, intent on making tracks. he turned around and asked us if there was something worthwhile to look at. that, in itself, was a funny question, considering the absolute beauty of the place we were standing. i responded that we weren’t looking, “we’re listening.” he nodded and said something about serenity, then pushed on.

if there were a place i could choose to stand as this year turns into next, i think i would pick one of the 250 waterfalls, or, for that matter, the stream. a reminder that all things keep moving. that everything is fluid. that the edges are smoothed by the water that runs over and over and over them. that dropping worries and angsts and all negativity into the moving, rushing fall or even the whitewater river or gurgling brook, will allow that very water to carry it all away.

“it’s time to let it all go,” he said as we were visiting together. he’s right.

as this year turns its head toward the sun of a new year, i drop it all into the water and start again. we are merely riverstones in this fluid looking-glass-filled life.

happy new year.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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thunkthunkthunk. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the check-engine light is on. i felt compelled to explain it to my daughter and her boyfriend when i picked them up at the airport, lest they worry i wouldn’t be able to deliver them downtown – in the middle of a snowy, rainy, sleety early afternoon. “we’re waiting for a catalytic converter,” i told them and they nodded. the only saving grace to not picking them up in a horse-drawn carriage (or that ferrari that chris-the-spectrum-guy had promised me) is that i brought snacks with me, making me a “pretty good uber”. ahhh, yes, it puts a momma’s heart on steroids.

we are used to a ride with sounds and not just in littlebabyscion. big red has these running boards that rattle over bumps (for which we are seeking welding help) so it is never quiet in either vehicle. neither has the sound-proofing of vehicles for which we have seen commercials….where the mom stays out in the lincoln suv and peacefully avoids the chaos in her home. no…we bring our chaos with us as part of the travel package. but eh, we don’t mind.

it is usually me who hears the new sound first: the seatbelt in the back thumping against the window, the back seat not fully engaged and squeaking over bounces, the sunglasses on the dashboard jiggling. tiny ambient sounds. the larger ones too. the sound of the hole in the exhaust system, the metallic quaking of a truck with a blown coil. i would mention the things i sniff out first too but it just might be too much here.

regardless, there have been moments when i seem to be channeling my sweet dad as i slough off the sound and keep driving. i know the proof will be in the pudding (that is a really strange saying) and we will see, if we continue on our merry way, what happens.

changing the subject i’ll look over at d and quote my poppo, “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” “not if it’s in cans,” he quips my dad’s standard answer. we both laugh and keep driving.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB.


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go back and buy the towel. [two artists tuesday]

i should have bought the pencils.

i love #2 pencils – though, in an inane detail you are probably unconcerned about, i love mechanical pencils more – and it was a whole pack of ’em. plus each and every one was printed with the word “dissent”.

that’s why i should have bought them. i could have stashed reminders of RBG’s venerable spirit and dedication to equality and goodness and principle and ethics and probity in my purse, on the kitchen counter, at my piano, in our mélange-planning notebook, in my calendar.

they would have reminded me to stand courageously in dissent, to back it up with facts, to hold to integrity, to not waver in the face of any question or any fear or any threat. the thing about supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg, though, is that she was intrepid – even without the pencils.

and so, with the sisu of ruth, the belief in “an opinion, philosophy or sentiment of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or policy enforced by a government, political party or other entity or individual in a capacity of contextual authority” (wikipedia), the steadfast commitment to the truth and transparency, we all batten down the hatches and ready ourselves for whatever things we care about for which we must fight.

at the very least, i should have bought the towel.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

PS. “despite the fact that the justices routinely disagree with each other, they never let it get personal, and have good working relationships with one another.” (dhruti bhagat, librarian, boston public library blog – ruth bader ginsburg and dissents: what’s a dissent?)


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bareback and honest. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

calm.

the mug calls for calm.

yet, in these times, calm is elusive. it is the floating dust glistening in sunlight. it is the golden ray through the cloud. it is the snowflakes silently falling in the woods. it is the sound of soft laughter, the sound of the dog’s feet running in dreams and the cat snoring in slumber. it is hard to hold onto, hard to touch; it is hard to find.

in these times, with coffee in our hands, we start the new day. we wake, wishes and burdens on our minds, both. the things that kept us awake in the middle of the night, the things that pushed us into sleep: exhausting, worrisome, celebratory, quietly reassuring, sleep-depriving, sleep-inducing. we start the morning, on the roller coaster, one of us holding the “calm” mug.

we have found that – the conversations over-morning-coffee, the conversations over evening-wine, the conversations on the trail, in the sunroom, at the kitchen counter – these conversations need a little help, a little preface, a tiny guideline. for him, a guy, though not a-macho-guy-type-still-a-guy-nonetheless, he is looking to solve. for me, a girl, well, i am looking to just talk, to just go on, to be redundant, to vent. we discovered early on that any talk-talk could easily dissolve into ugly if we didn’t clarify a few things, well, really one thing, first. was this a conversation where i wanted comfort or solutions? was this a conversation where i wanted him to listen or problem-solve?

i honestly can say these two questions – just this simple strategy – could have saved many a relationship moment dating back decades and decades. it took me way too long to realize this glaringly obvious simplicity – that men and women, women and women, men and men – any two people in relationship – approach from vastly disparate directions. i am riding my feisty mare in from the rising sun in the east and he is galloping on a sassy stallion from the setting sun in the west. meeting in the middle ground requires a little gps-ing, dispensing of the drawn word-swords and negotiating some clarity shortcuts. that simple. that makes all the difference.

in these times, though calm is illusory, we find that we can be in this world of unknowns mostly by just being. solutions are hiding with the calm, behind puzzling shadows.

but comfort, listening, empathy are right out in the open, in that field of possibility between the rising sun and the setting sun, riding a steady quarter horse, bareback and honest.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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on fire. [d.r. thursday]

House On Fire

HOUSE ON FIRE

it is.  on fire.

this house – this country – is on fire.

there are some fires that water will simply not douse, that regular fire-mitigating won’t choke out.  this is one of those.

it rages with hotter heat and more tenacity.  it is impervious to deterrents.  its flames reach into the souls of those with souls and its ash, always ready to ignite, is never extinguished, never snuffed out, smoldering for more years than we can wrap our heads around.

its destruction has burned more deeply into lives than the magma-chasm of volcanos.

there aren’t enough words to quell the wrenching heartache of inequity – the fire has eaten through them all.

there is silence – staggering, heartbroken, earth-shattering silence – and we must hear it.

there aren’t enough excuses to explain it away – people have turned their backs on this smoldering fire, consensual participants in fanning the blaze, the oppression, the hatred.

there are reasons – a history of inequity that predates us and continues like an undercurrent, always there.

there aren’t enough condolences to offer those burned and scarred – empty thoughts and prayers are issued by people standing in bigot-hydrant vicinity, safely far enough away, not in the fray, not affected or effecting.

there are empty words of solicitousness, of sympathy – the pat on the head and the turn back to your-own-life.

there aren’t solutions ready at the fingertips – the listening, talking, desperately sincere efforts to understand, to have empathy, to stop and put on others’ shoes, the soles of which have been melted by the hot lava of this fire.  these are within our grasp; we must step out of complicit complacency.  we must acknowledge the chasm between lip service and true comprehension.  black lives matter.

there is an imperative – to take action, to make change.

in the middle of peaceful protestors being forcibly removed from the area near the white house with tear gas and rubber bullets, the president of this country haughtily walked across the street and stood before a church holding a bible.  it was an empty moment, devoid of positive or constructive meaning, spraying more firestarter onto a fire-lit-for-centuries.  an arsonist.  shameful.

“what else can happen?” we wonder?

each day we are stunned.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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“voter freud” [flawed wednesday]

voter freud

my sweet momma taught me to use a dictionary when i was very young.  “look it up,” she would tell me.  the dictionary held an esteemed place in our house.  if i didn’t know what ‘it’ meant or how ‘it’ was spelled, i knew where to go.  i developed a love for dictionaries, thesauruses, all manners of the tools of research.

now, it seems dictionaries have lost their status and spellcheck has become a way of life for those too lazy to ‘look it up’.  spellcheck has a few obvious limitations; context, usage and intent presenting the biggest challenges.  if only spellcheck and auto-correct could reach out of the device screen and (gently) slap the person committing the spellingcrime, life’s communications could be better understood.  punctuation joins the game of laziness and, i must say, punctuation makes a difference.  consider “i’m sorry i love you” or “i’m sorry.  i love you.”  there is a marked difference.

so when people, who never graced me, the nerdy-look-it-up-type, with even one word in high school but who have ‘friended’ me on facebook, post multiple nonsensical, poorly articulated and division-inciting arguments using the term “voter Freud”, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.  i want to post back “look it up!” but i refrain.  borrowing leonard pitts’ words, there seems to be a “matchless capacity for mental mediocrity” in the united states these days.

i suspect if this not-really-a-friend-just-a-friend-on-facebook was standing across from me (mind you, at least six feet across) she would be screaming at me in a loud raucous voice.  i wonder if she would call it – this thing she has taken from fox news and run full speed with, never looking to see if she had a spotter or even a bottle of water in her full-out sprint to falsificationland – “voter Freud” in person.  or would she actually say “voter fraud” in her zeal to make me a believer of her layered cake of conspiracies.

this is not just about lazy writing.  this seems an indicator of a bigger problem.  it’s the metaphoric tip of the iceberg.  i’m not just kvetching about spelling and punctuation, much as i wish that were the whole problem.  it’s an imploring plea to ask questions.  in today’s deep-fake world, a reminder to not make quick assumptions.  to not jump onto a band wagon stoked with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs to quell those speaking out, enable dictatorial nationalism, silence what needs to be said.

in this pandemic-laden-chaos-wreaked-leaderless-divisive country of ours i would encourage research.  i would encourage fact-checking.  i would encourage dictionaries.  i would encourage more listening and less reactionism.  i would hope that each of us would understand that every word we utter, every word we write matters, every attitude, every nuance.  we are not in a world of one; we each affect and effect the next.  over and over.

and i don’t know.  last time i checked, john glenn high school in elwood, new york – more than four decades ago – had pretty high standards in english class, in sciences, in history, in math, not the least learning of which was how to use deductive reasoning.  i, for one, was paying attention.  because it mattered.  “voter Freud?”  indeed.  it still matters.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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mouths shut. mouths aloud. [flawed wednesday]

keep yo mouth shut

“and if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all,” my sweet momma would admonish.

yes, sometimes ‘you just gotta button it up’.  there are those moments you know it.  there are also those moments you knew it but the cat did not have your tongue and the reactionary in you reared its ugly head and you spat out something you instantly regretted.

wisdom has been passed down in quiet steadfast sages.  their lessons have been lost on many; their diplomacy skipped in dna strands, oft replaced by quick tempers and faster tongues.

as jen would say, “you can’t un-say/un-see/un-know it.”  good to remember.

one day, back in college, i had the good fortune of eating lunch with paul simon.  the chitchat was about many things under the sun, but i wish i had asked him a bit more about this song.  he said that in the inability of people to communicate, no one was listening to him and no one was listening to anyone else.  as we passed by captain mike’s and the irish pub and the beach and downtown a couple days ago, i thought he clearly wrote this song about now, the middle of this global pandemic.  who is listening?  who is speaking?  who should be speaking?  who should be listening?  why is the silence – truly in the middle of so much noise – so deafening?

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
i wonder about a world where no one is listening, no one is paying attention.  i wonder
what kind of world are we passing on to those behind us?  keeping quiet, speaking out, exercising verbal self-control, standing up, articulating for what is right in the face of adversity….
me and all my friends
we’re all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there’s no way we ever could
now we see everything that’s going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don’t have the means
to rise above and beat it
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
it’s not that we don’t care
we just know that the fight ain’t fair
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
and we know that sometimes it is simply best to keep your mouth shut.  to wait.  sometimes it is the right thing to do.  sometimes it is the only way through to the other side.
now you say it best when you say nothing at all.
silence speaks louder than words.  silence is, indeed, often golden.  insight, compassion, discernment, respect, knowledge, empathy, listening – all golden qualities of those who choose their words wisely, those who know when to keep their mouth shut.
archie bunker, of ‘all in the family‘ fame, knew he had a big mouth.  it got him good ratings, but carrol o’connor, the actor who played archie, said this about the main character:
“Archie’s dilemma is coping with a world that is changing in front of him.  He doesn’t know what to do, except to lose his temper, mouth his poisons, look elsewhere to fix the blame for his own discomfort.  He isn’t a totally evil man.  He’s shrewd.  But he won’t get to the root of his problem, because the root of his problem is himself, and he doesn’t know it.  That is the dilemma of Archie Bunker.”
 

wow.  why does THAT sound so familiar?

oh, did i say that aloud?

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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