Showing posts from November, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: November 30 on Ice

The weekend ended with some snow, freezing rain, and rain again. Before today, though, the sun shone softly and beautifully on the ice forming on the pond at the bottom of my road. It's a beautiful, peaceful time of year.

Inwardly be free of all hopes and desires, but outwardly do what needs to be done. Without hopes in your heart, live as if you were full of hopes. Live with your heart now cool and now warm, just like everyone else. Inwardly give up the idea "I am the doer," yet outwardly engage in all activities. This is how to live in the world, completely free from the least trace of ego. (Maharamayana)

Weekend Snapshot

Blog Your Blessings: Black Watch

This week's blessing is the play Black Watch, which I had the pleasure of seeing at St. Anne's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, on Friday evening. It is a beautiful, complex work of political art. Black Watch is a production of the National Theater of Scotland written by Gregory Burke and directed by John Tiffany.

On one level, the drama captures the real experience of soldiers of the Black Watch regiment in Iraq. On another, it is about the problem of transforming the myriad ineffable experiences of being a soldier into a story--something that can be communicated to a world that often sits in judgment of soldiers as otherwise unemployable fools.

The story begins in a Scottish pub when a writer begins interviewing a handful of soldiers who have left the regiment about their experiences. The soldiers are not able to communicate their memories through language; discourse immediately dissolves into sentences broken up with the F word--or with streams of the F-word interrupted by po…

One Single Impression: Welcoming

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day:
These are the three holy days
When an early morning walk is worship.
There is not silence but peace;
On this day, one is not the other.
The walk is not movement across the earth
But a deep embrace, a good morning,
A falling into the arms of every beautiful thing,
A wide-eyed waking up and seeing
That the world is good.

One Single Impression

Skywatch Friday: White, a Trick of the Light


Thursday Thirteen: Gratitude to the Least Likely...

This little photo doesn't do justice to the statue of the great Massasoit that overlooks the harbor of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Go there and you will see a grand, so much larger than life monument to the great Native American who helped the Pilgrims make sense of their new landscape and to survive in it in the 1620s.

Massasoit is one of my favorite figures from this era in our history. He was kind because he could be; he certainly didn't have to be. I wonder if the Pilgrims enjoyed the irony of their situation as they worked so hard to satisfy the demands of their business partners back home who expected compensation for the boat ride to and the real estate in the new world. No mercy there.

I like the story of Massasoit also because it reminds me to appreciate kindness from everywhere, including from the least likely of places and to accept the grief when it does not come from the most likely of places. With that idea in mind, thanks to:

1. To old friends who forced open locke…

Wordless Wednesday: The Last to Go

Yes. Another dead leaf. I can't seem to help myself. I was out for a walk on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed the play of light on this leaf. The sunlight was very bright, and I enjoyed the way it highlighted the minutest of details. I especially like walking in these leaves; they are the noisiest.

Wordless Wednesday

My World Tuesday: Up Close and Just Like That

These days in Connecticut, everything starts to look about the same--and I love all of it. It's an especial pleasure to wake early and enjoy the morning light on the leaves. Every panoramic landscape I can think of comes down to this.

My World Tuesday

Weekend Snapshot: Berries on Ice


One Single Impression: Childhood Memories

This rice bowl
Translucent as baby skin
Is painted inside and out with
A splendid little bowl,
It is cracked in three places
And broken in one.
I imagine somebody bumped it
Years ago while helping with the dishes.

So many things break
In conversations
At the kitchen sink.
At my grandmother's,
There were so many of us and so much being said….
It happened.

My grandmother used brown glue to set it right, and
The repair work holds after four decades.

My grandmother would have turned glued side
To the wall.

You never would have known.

You would have wondered
How she came by so many beautiful things.

This bowl is mine.
I keep the cracked side
Not quite to the wall.
I like to see it.
And remember how rich as a queen my grandmother was
And how I helped with the dishes
and knew
and it was all okay--
perfect, really.

One Single Impression

Blog Your Blessings: Nowhere, Nobody, Nothing

This weeks blessing: a few minutes on Sunday when there was nowhere to go, nobody to be with, nothing to say. I was on my own in thick of some Sunday sunlight and silence, so I took my camera and went for a ride. I like to go to the familiar places and try to see something differently.

Though I live in a historic, picture-postcard-perfect little town, I find it a bit uninteresting. So looking at those things that bore me in a way that is interesting is a challenge. I don't care but I want to care but I don't want to take the time to care. But Sunday I did. While I was trying to photograph a 17th century farmhouse, I turned and had a good look at the barn. The light seemed to have slipped under the clouds and taken on a life of its own. The greens became golden and the air was like liquid gold. The light was like a child running around a newly raked back yard on a cold afternoon. It was gorgeous.

I didn't quite capture that quality of the light here, but I sure did feel it.…

Skywatch Friday: November, November...


Thursday Thirteen: Litanies

This week I was thinking about litanies. I heard them in church during the prayers (lists of persons who were named though their needs were not) and at school during morning announcements (the kids suspended in-house for the day) and saw them on war monuments, grave markers...

I thought of how important names are--to hear and to touch, as is the case with war monuments such as the Vietnam Memorial. People will travel great distances to touch a name in a list. Naming involves, writing, reading, speaking, hearing, touching. Yet, what is it, really? I think it's a short hand that says you, who have a name that marks your soul as a unique miracle, are exactly that. A unique miracle.

Naming is about loving one another. With that in mind, here's a litany on love.

1. adulation
2. affection
3. allegiance
4. amity
5. amor
6. appreciation
7. ardor
8. attachment
9. devotion
10. fidelity
11. friendship
12. passion
13. respect

Thursday Thirteen

Wordless Wednesday: Gothic in Gotham


My World Tuesday: After the Fall, November

This was my dim view from a lean-to at White Memorial Nature Center in Litchfield, Connecticut, on Saturday. We sat and enjoyed our lunch and took in the wet, grey midday atmosphere. This is New England after the fall. Call it November: cold, damp, and grey yet strangely bright and open and lively. An acquired taste? Maybe. I think I was born with it, though; I can't imagine being anywhere else this time of year.

My World Tuesday

Weekend Snapshot: In a Fog

I have photographed this solitary tree at Topsmead Park in Litchfield on brighter days and enjoyed its color; on Saturday, the fog helped me enjoy it in silhouette.

Weekend Snapshot

One Single Impression: Courage

,What is courage?
I look it up and find courage
To be a marriage of
What is in the heart
With what is in the mind...

Over time,
This has come to mean
Acting despite fear,
And so calming the troubled heart
At every cost.


But I go back to the dictionary
And find more:

When the heart unites with
Wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness--
That is courage, too.

But who understands it this way?



The breath and pulse of
The soul.

Call it a marriage if you want.
It is courage.

One Single Impression

Blog Your Blessings: The White Dude

This week Veteran's Day was the subject of my literacy lessons at school. I taught the general history of the holiday as well as the specific history of my Uncle Laurence, who was a submariner who died in combat off the Northern coast of Japan in 1944. Literacy as reading and writing gave way to literacy as knowing where you are. I hope my students read me well.

Uncle Laurence's story has always defined patriotism for me. A young man who saw his country attacked by the Japanese, he did the only thing he felt he could: he showed up for service even though he didn't have too because he was still too young.He did his best, he served well, and he died just before his last patrol would have ended and he would have come home to live out his life.

He was a kid who wanted to do what he could to stop a growing problem because he was afraid the threat would imperil his family. He did his best in good faith. He wasn't waiting for the perfect world would show up and be worthy of hi…

Skywatch Friday: Remembering

This grieving woman stands at the back of Riverside Cemetery in Waterbury, Connecticut. She is one of my favorite statues there because she is strong and dignified and elegant despite her grief. I noticed Sunday that her form mirrors the form of the tree behind her. It seemed to me in a romantic moment that somehow nature was sympathizing with humanity here.

Skywatch Friday

Thursday Thirteen: What I Learned from Dad's Military Experience

It seemed to me when I was growing up that everyone's dad did his time in the military before getting a job that would last a lifetime and starting a family. All our dads were similar in ways that were at once noteworthy and negligible--noteworthy when we were in trouble and negligible when we were not. Here are just a few of those things we learned from our dads:

1. Be early for everything.
2. Do what you're told.
3. Do not talk back--
4. Ever
5. Under any circumstance.
6. Do your best--
7. Always
8. Under every circumstance.
9. Speak the truth.
10. Make your parents proud.
11. Finish what you start.
12. Respect your elders.
13. The place you call home is your country. Love it.

Some mornings at school, I watch the kids who don't say the Pledge of Allegiance. I find this is most of our homeroom class of 20 kids. Are they lazy? Disloyal? Have they any idea what it means to promise to be loyal? Do they understand that the United States of America is who they are, that it is not som…

Wordless Wednesday: The Yellow of Autumn

I was missing the yellows of autumn this year. It seemed we had gone from green to deep red to brown to nothing until I discovered some lovely trees in a forgotten corner of Waterbury on Sunday.

Wordless Wednesday

My World Tuesday: The Submariners' Memorial, Groton, Connecticut

The second image is a 1996 photo of my great uncle, Allan Isbell, pointing to his brother Laurence's (top) name engraved in the Wall of Honor at the WWII National Submarine Memorial in Groton, Connecticut.

Uncle Laurence joined the Navy shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Too young to enlist, he nevertheless went after receiving his mother's reluctant blessing. She knew he was going; she would send her love with him though her heart broke. Laurence was Ship's Cook Third Class on the USS Herring, which U-boat the Japanese sunk from land on what was to be my uncle's last tour.

My uncle never got over the loss of his brother and best friend. He spent the years after his retirement searching for other submariners who might have known something of his brother's service. He'd go to various Naval events commemorating the submarine service in the hope of finding someone who might be able to fill a gap in his brother's story. I have copies of the letter…

Weekend Snapshot: Roses of the Garden

My daughter and I arranged some dried roses and hydrangea this weekend. "Looks kind of crazy, huh?" I laughed as we struggled with the brittle blossoms. "Yeah. And that's a good thing!" she replied. She was right.

Weekend Snapshot

One Single Impression: Paradox

I am boundless space
Yet the world is a clay pot
Nothing and everything
Everything and everywhere
Nowhere, invisible.
Call my name, call your own,
Be the invisible night
Without which
The stars would
Be not light
Hot, bright, eternal
But nothing
Would be you, be me
Know the stars
Be one
Darkness is everything
And evermore
You know this if you are
A star

One Single Impression

Blog Your Blessings: Change

On Tuesday morning, I joined a long line of registered voters at my daughter's elementary school and waited a half an hour for my turn to cast my ballot. While I stood in the fog and sipped my coffee, I thought it was pretty darn wonderful whatever points of view others around me carried, we were agreed the resolution lay on the other side of the cafeteria door. The vote was everything.

I voted for Obama. Many of the kids at school who asked me for whom I voted were shocked the white lady voted for the black man. I suggested to them oh so mildly that their thinking was somewhat bigoted. Here was a new idea for these kids: that racism and bigotry are not diseases that afflict white people only. That people are so much more than the color of their skin. Perhaps they will learn from the words of their hero:

"I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a …

Skywatch Friday: Shelton Sunset

This was the sunset we left behind after a day of playing with my nephews. This beautiful sky in Shelton, Connecticut, made me think of the beach and wish I could dive into those heavenly waves.

Skywatch Friday

Thursday Thirteen: Thoughts on November

1. November crept in silently last weekend.
2. There was a strange magic about the silence of the day.
3. Wherever I found myself, I noticed the absence of human noise and even of animal sounds--no geese, no ducks, no distant dogs, no crows, no gulls.
4. Silence.
5. All were gone.
6. Somewhere.
7. Inside, I think--houses, holes, nests--or somewhere warm.
8. Then, last night, I heard one cricket chirping into the darkness that was not cold.|
9. It felt as though a warm draft had rolled back over the flapping wings of those distant Canada geese heading South.
10. Then there was the promise of rain. Warm November rains feel strange.
11. They take with them the last of the Fall color,
12. Clearing the sky of the debris of summer,
13. November rains make it possible to see the stars at night and to perhaps touch them. Or at least try.

Thursday Thirteen

My World Tuesday: Lighthouse Point Park, East Haven, Connecticut


Weekend Snapshot: Miniature Golf with a Football

My daughter and her cousins spent Saturday afternoon miniature golfing and duck pin bowling. My nephew Adam chose this golf ball suited up as a pigskin as his weapon of choice. It served him well.

Weekend Snapshot

One Single Impression: Disguise

Treetops swayed in the November wind
Swayed into darkness
With the music of storms
Music, the partner of night
Stripped bare in the dance
Bare yet rooted yet reaching
Rooted deeper into the unfathomable
Deep and naked night

The clothes of day lay at my feet
Crumpled, wet,and ruined

Crumpled, wet, and ruined
I stood as a silent intruder
Watching this strange and sacred act

One late October evening
Disguised, like I said,
As November

Disguised, as I was,
I could not turn away.

One Single Impression