Today I am getting my collection of paintings, sensory integration toys, and other delightful textile goodies ready for Open Studio Hartford. http://openstudiohartford.com Now fully out of the artist closet, I will be exhibiting my work with nine other artists on the third floor of 56 Arbor Street from 11:00-5:30 the weekend of November 15-16. Being in my space means, of course, that I will be unable to explore the twenty two other Hartford sites that also house exhibitors, but next time I will plan it better. This is my first go round with what has been an annual event for twenty-five years.
In addition to swapping my art for tuition funds, I am also offering five hand-sewn unicorns with spiral seashell or quartz crystal horns as thank-you gifts for donations of twenty-five dollars or more to Unicorn Meadow Farm unicornmeadowfarm.com If you have not yet found your way there, shame on you...you have been neglecting your spiritual side long enough. Get there and immerse yourself in the peace of just being there.
It is COLD in here. 43 degrees F. Here's why:
Last night the house filled with the scent of what I can only describe a burnt steam. The rooms were hazy with it. My first thought was, "Dinner is burning." It wasn't. The furnace, however, was.
Our 1919 Bungalow has a steam heat system that bangs and clangs and makes comforting hissing noises as the cast iron radiators fill with the steam that has kept us cozy all the twenty-four years I have lived here.
Last night, as I was cooking my wild rice and shrimp (with asparagus and black olives....MMMmmmm....) the water level regulator stopped working; but the furnace didn't. I didn't find this out, however, until I ventured downstairs where the smell was horrible and the air much worse.
Standing by that steam-belching beast in my basement, I called on Saint Joseph, patron of the home, but also my personal protector for as long as I can remember. I immediately felt his loving presence, and knew instantly what to do. I opened the water valve and shut down the heater, actions I now realize kept our furnace from exploding.
Long story longer, I called the oil company, who sent their guy, who told me the boiler was cracked. We need a new boiler. But the house, and I, were both still intact. My husband, upon returning from work, was also delighted by this news. Too late to buy space heaters, we slept late and comfortably under our down quilt.
So now, seeing my breath as I write this, wondering what is taking so long at Home Depot (my husband went for space heaters), I am grateful. I am grateful that, as soon as I post this, swaddled in wool blankets I can warm my hands with this hot mug of coffee and watch the sparrows squabble at the feeder. I am most grateful that my house did not explode into the coldest night we have had all year. I am grateful that well-trained professionals will arrive soon to replace our boiler. I am grateful that both tuitions have been paid and we can cover this expense before next semester's bill is due. I am grateful for the love that surrounds me and for the ongoing knowing that when I am in need, when any of us is in need, we have only to ask and the loving guidance and protection of our saints, guides and angels are ours, instantly.
I hope this finds you well, warm and happy. Namaste'
My mother died yesterday.
This is the only day I can write those words and have them be true.
My mother died yesterday.
Tomorrow, and for every day afterwards, as we go hurtling along through linear time, she will fly farther and farther away from this life.
It was a peaceful death, finally, at the end. Having lived with Alzheimer's Disease the past dozen years, my mom finally did something for herself, she left.
My dear friend Richard e-mailed me today, sharing this wisdom: When you are born, you cry, everyone rejoices. When you die, you rejoice, everyone cries.
I have been saying goodbye to Mommy, grieving her loss, for many years now. When both her grandchildren were on stage during a local production of Madame Butterfly, I knew Mom would have LOVED it! She would have been so happy, so proud of them. Then, when Josef was accepted to college, and Maryellen was accepted for her study abroad program, I wanted so much to tell her. She would have LOVED it!
Yet Alzheimer's was also a sort of gift to us as well, For a couple of years there we enjoyed each others' company. She knew who I was, but had forgotten her dislike for me. Every time I saw her, she hugged me, kissed me, and told me that she loved me. She still slapped me, of course, for Mom used backhands as punctuation. Often, we visited her little sister Josephine for lunch. One afternoon, she thanked me for giving her grandchildren.
We even went shopping. My father sent us off with the task of finding a dress for her up-comig birthday party. "Why are we here anyway?" she asked me. "We're getting a dress for you to wear to your birthday party." I answered. Her eyes lit up. "My birthday! How old am I?" "82" I told her. "82!" she exclaimed, "No wonder my feet hurt!"
Shortly after she chased a health care aid through the house, waving her shoe, screaming, "I'm going to beat you to DEATH!", she stopped walking. Then she stopped eating, Mom refused medications and treatments. She had a bladder infection, and days later, another.
Saturday night, I was working on her eulogy when my father called to tell me she was being taken to the ICU unit.
Her heart was racing but her blood pressure stayed low. She was dehydrated, her body unable to absorb tube fed nutrients. Her breathing was almost frantic. Her muscles ached from lack of nutrition, yet her bowel was impacted. Her fever reached 103.
Thankfully, my father opted for CMO; Comfort Measures Only.
my mom died yesterday,
and I am so very happy for her.
My dear friend and cyber-geek Tom just left. We have spent the past two hours getting me educated in the ways of web-site construction. I am SO happy to report that I am finally able to add images to my ART section independently. My interest in participating in Open Studio Hartford this November has finally jump-started me into action. That, and Tom also accessed the statistics for my site. I am delighted to know that not only have I had upwards of four hundred hits from you darlings out there, but several of you are international visitors. Many of you come back often, some of you actually stayed on a page and read for several minutes. Mildly creepy as this statistical spying may feel at first, Cyber Tom assures me that people are, indeed connecting with my site. So to those of you who are reading this, THANK YOU for your visit. You inspire me. Your presence motivates me to write more often and more broadly; to develop The Stuff of Healing page; to create more art to share. So please know, each of you, that your presence here, no matter how brief, matters. Namaste;
The following is a comment I posted on the team treasury thread of my favorite etsy team, Shiny Happy People. https://www.etsy.com/teams/11263/shiny-happy-
This portion began as a comment to Jill in Australia, but morphed into a stream of consciousness about today's explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Jill had originally shared a story about the Rainbow Crossing created in Sydney as part of a Mardi Gras celebration. She also shared this link, www.facebook.com/DIYrainbowcrossings She felt it was, and I agree, a heartwarming balance to today's grim news from Boston.
Here is what I wrote:
Jill LOVED The DIY rainbow crossings...rather makes it a good thing that the city officials were so tight-@55 ed about it...so they provided a gift to the world: their inflexibility led the world to speak up in so many loving and beautiful ways....so we are grateful for the role they played, because now we have a much more powerful sense of our collective joy. Were it not for the chalk rainbows, I would never have heard of the rainbow crossing. So, from a different perspective, I am glad of the gift of inflexibility.
This afternoon and tonight I was struck by the images from Boston played and replayed on the news....the site of the first explosion, all those flags...it seems an attack on all nations, on all the people who came together for the race...and the initial blast did not take any flags down. It was as if the earth herself were standing with all nations, all people, against the blast.
Tonight, sitting in my quiet house...my husband at work, my daughter in another state, my son on a night ferry between Greece and Italy, I cannot believe that the world is a horrible place. the world is a wonderful place, and most of the people are good and loving and true. I cannot live in fear.
I will not live in fear. Not for my husband, not for my kids, not for your husbands or your kids....not for the loved ones in Boston or Australia, or anywhere else.
I choose to live my life in love. Whether we come together to run a race or to make our rainbows seen, it is all the good in us that will help heal the wounds left by the few that are so lost or so angry or so desperately unhappy that see no option but violence.
Slowly I have come to a place where I can have compassion for all the beings on the earth, even those among us who do us the most hurt. I can see where, in the context of our history, their actions only serve to bind us closer together, to be more compassionate with one another, to reach to one another for healing and comfort and love.
The child killed in Boston to day was eight years old. How close in age to the twenty children lost to us in Connecticut last December. My sister told me that the last mile of the marathon was dedicated to the memory of those last in Newton, that many Newtown family members were there, along that last mile. I wonder will any of them meet with the parents and family of that eight year old? Will they be able to share in this new grief, to help hold it, to support these parents because of what they themselves still hold? In a sad and tragic way, only they can truly sympathize with the parents of that small boy tonight. How terrible that their great sorrow may be of some help to others tonight.
Singer/songwriteer Cheryl Wheeler sang, "A broken heart keeps beating all the same." I am with you, Shiny Happies, my heart is broken again as well, but I will not give in to fear or to sadness or to hate. It is our love for one another that keeps our broken hearts beating. It is, in fact, the only way to healing.
Just needed it get that out, ...thank you all for your patience.
The first day, I responded as a higher dimensional being. I contacted other Light Workers to be sure the souls of the children startled out of their bodies so suddenly, had found their way into the Light, not left wandering in confusion and fear. I sent love in protective wave after protective wave to those left in such profound sorrow. I sent love and compassion to a soul so tortured that killing children seemed his best option.
The second day, I responded as a three dimensional mother, curled on my side in bed, contracted in such grief and sadness that only deep, desperate sleep could contain it.
There is a scene in the African Queen, when Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn have gone as far as they can go in the reedy waters of the river they are following. At one point, Charlie Alnut is literally dragging the boat behind him. He struggles along in muddy water up to his chest, leaches covering him, sun baking his head. At last, he can go no farther. The boat is stuck: the reeds too close. Rosie helps haul his exhausted body back on board. She helps him tear the horrid leaches off his skin. They decide they have done all they can do. They give up. They lie down together on deck to await death.
The camera pans up.
From above the mast of their small craft, the viewer sees what they cannot: twenty feet away is open water. While our heroes sleep, rain falls, lifting their boat free. When they awake, they are redeemed. Their boat has drifted into open water. They rise, rejoice, and they resume their travels. They are energized; amazed. They are giddy with the relief of their renewed hope. Their faces shine.
From my own reaction to twenty-eight deaths that awful day in December, I can feel so deeply the difference between the hopelessness of the view of our limited human experience and the solace of a higher perspective. We are bereft. We struggle to understand. We grieve deeply and forever the losses we suffer. There is no way to tear off the leeches of our sorrow. We are devastated. It is beyond our ability to imagine living a moment longer.
We pan up. We lift our consciousness. For a moment, pried out of the limited suffering of three dimensions, we may see this from the mast of our own scuttled ship.
For reasons we cannot fully fathom, these souls left this world together. Their passing has drawn us closer in compassion and love. Their leaving has galvanized us in our commitment to comfort one another. Our lives turn in our resolve to change our society. Together, we celebrate the Light they shared among us for so brief a time. They leave us breathless with love. They shine.
So today is 12 October 2012. Here is a paragraph from an e-mail I sent this morning to a friend who teaches on the college level:
Since June of 1983 I have been a certified teacher in the state of CT, in both regular and special ed. Not tomorrow. Today my certification runs out...and I have let it, knowing I will never again be subjected to the filthy machine that is public education. I have always been a teacher, I will always be a teacher...one day, maybe, I will be called Teacher, but for now, it is enough for me to watch the last gurgle of air leave the sunken ship of that part of my life. Finally, it is over. I am truly free.
In the wake of No Child Left Behind, we have No Teacher Left Standing.
I am proud of the work I did, of the children and families I was able to reach, to help, to encourage and love. I am grateful for the lessons that teaching has taught me as well. Mostly, I am glad of the people I met, the teachers I have known and loved, and the laughter that was, sometimes, all that could sustain us.
Mrs. Savoy was the paraprofessional assigned to my first self-contained class. It was a good year before I could call her by her first name. Our working relationship outlasted my first marriage by a good ten years. Quite an honor to work with such a naturally talented colleague. So lovely to count her among my friends.
Periodically we take out my Hush Puppies shoe box of photographs from the 80s and laugh ourselves breathless at the adventures we shared. We share "Aww"s and happy head-shaking at the children in our care. Carson and Tammy and Kenny...Nicole's wildly infectious laughter...John L and Spig....Adam, and Cary and Sarah, oh, Sarah...and sweet, sweet Laura...their pride in their accomplishments and our tears at their joy. Nothing on Earth like The Best Class Graduation Day.
I regret that I did not teach long enough to work for Mr.Murdzek as he is far and away the best teacher I have ever known, certainly he was, as I have told him so often "The beat principal I never worked for." We met, in fact shared a room, when I was the primary special education teacher and he was a reading paraprofessional for the first grade.
This man built a cardboard yellow submarine and put a video screen up to its porthole. Small groups of first graders could climb aboard, observe the sea creatures shown on the video, and later write about their adventures. I have never seen children so eager to write. Also, since the undersea video ran all morning, different groups saw different creatures,thus adding to the excitement of sharing their writing.
Mr Murdzek and I worked together the year he taught first grade;co-taught writing and so much else at the third grade level for three years; and later we co-taught as I provided special education service to children during his years teaching fifth grade. Now he has administrative certification. What better man to lead a school into the twenty-first century?
There were a few years in there when every day was a joyous adventure. When we would get there early and stay there late working off each others' energy and excitement. There were four of us, Mr. Crispino and Mrs. Cutler rounding out our circle of genius. I laugh out loud to remember those days.
So today all the sadness and disappointment I have not written about goes down with the ship. I can still have lunch with Mrs. Savoy and Mr. Murdzek. We will always laugh because it was so so amazing in so so many ways.
Today I am a teacher. Tomorrow I will be me some more.
Today is his birthday. He would have been forty---what? Forty-five. .
He was just twenty-one when he died. Coming home too late, too fast, too drunk, leaning his motorcycle into a curve that sent him sprawling, his helmet flung twenty feet from where they found his body.
This isn’t about the hours that stretched into days in the icu waiting room. It is not about a man who never regained consciousness, words of love slipping from his ears, un-heard.
This is about remembering a young man,who loved hiking. Once, when chided by his girlfriend about the risks involved in peeing off a cliff, he mentioned off-handedly that he was an organ donor. This is about his generous parents, who, in spite of their deep and sudden grief, allowed his wish to be fulfilled. This is about the family who prayed for a miracle, but got seven; only they were for seven other people, not their own beloved Ed.
Mostly this is about how, twenty-four years after his organs were rushed to various parts of the state, the portrait I painted of him still hangs six feet two and a half-inches up on my wall. This is about how, in the scheme of eternity, the comfort comes in knowing that the heart I could not bear to stop beating, didn’t.
“Thank God for Ryan White”
The TV droned in the background, a nuisance to me, but not my home, so there we were. One of the men was talking about getting a new dresser for his room, when a commercial about pharmaceutical companies suggested a tangent. He told us that his medications cost seven hundred dollars a month. “Thank God for Ryan White!” He spoke his blessing sincerely, this middle-aged man with AIDS. He shook his head.
Thank God for Ryan White. I remember Ryan White, his life, the injustices that fear fanned into outrageous proportions. At the time I was not a yet a mother myself, but it is his mother I always hold in my heart when I hear his name now. How hellish was her life then? Heart-sick and afraid for her child, the uncertainly of AIDS was hard enough to shoulder. She and her family were burdened further with the public outcry against her son, a ragged, angry clamor born of ignorance, intolerance and fear, fear, FEAR.
In 1990, The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act was signed into law just months after Ryan White died. Reauthorized in 1996, 2000 and 2006, this legislation provides billions of dollars of assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS.
So now, in 2012, folks are still thanking God for Ryan White. Would somebody please let his mother know?
26 May 2012
Grandpa Joseph Nicholas Angelo served in The Great War (...WW I....they called it The War to End All Wars......ah well....)
..anyway, he was a private who lived to tell us grandchildren carefully edited stories about his time in France. He lived happily enough until just almost his 93rd birthday.
He never missed a parade and always held his hat over his heart until the flags had passed.
We the People, enjoy your potato salad (and jelly beans, as the case may be). Remember someone who did not come back, or someone who came back and left friends behind. I'm taking my son, Josef Angelo, to put a flag on his great-grandfather's grave.
25 May 2012
The flags appeared overnight.
It was 1992
I had just moved onto Elm Street.
No signs, no explanation, just
flag after flag.
I found myself
at a Memorial Day parade.
It is my understanding
that the flags
line the parade route.
that rather than just
where we have been,
that tell us
where we will go,