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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

do you hear

“…prayer is when we ask the universe for something, and meditation is when we stop and listen…When we allow ourselves to do both we begin to have a true conversation with the universe.”  - Daily Om

Silent night when all is calm and bright is the perfect time to speak to the universe and maybe not ask but give thanks before we pause to hear her response. Perhaps it’s also just the right time to begin having true conversations with ourselves, new chats with fresh dialogues. As another decade is about to close, the good, bad, better and worse that transpired from 2000 – 2010 will soon be behind me. I don't make resolutions, I do reflect, discuss and get quiet so I can pay attention. This year I’m at peace knowing that I’ve evolved on schedule more adequately prepped to navigate what lies ahead than I was at the brink of Y2K and poised for what else I need to learn.

As you ring in 2011, take a moment to drown out the horns and cheers. Listen…there really is something you need to hear and while you’re at it…

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

after post

I love snow on Christmas but can’t remember when was the last time I had a white one so I got a tiny bit giddy when I peeped out the window yesterday and saw flurries. The weather folks had been predicting a storm, then took it back, then said maybe, then I stopped dreaming of waking up to what I think makes the holiday all the more magical. But on this post Xmas day, they say that snow really and truly is on the way. Hooray! (Guess the thought has stirred the Seuss in me.) While I wait, first pair of UGGS at the ready (I finally capitulated this season because my short boots were no match for the deep snows I tromped around in earlier this year), I am going on line to take advantage of great discounts that did not exist the day pre Xmas on two staples in my winter wardrobe. Shopping by candlelight under the warmth of cashmere covers, a cup of nutty hojicha green tea at my fingertips…I feel for all those out at the malls who may not be aware that snowflakes are about to cover the ground because the weather people couldn't seem to pinpoint when or if it's really going to all come down.

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ps – As I was about to post, I got this picture from my close friend who is in a place where a white Christmas can only be in one’s dreams. The warmth of sand on my toes rather than wiggling them around in the fluff of my boots…now I’m dreaming…

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


For those who read this blog on a regular basis, you know how connected I am to nature, how much it inspires my creative energy be it written or visual. So it goes without saying that I was one of the many in the world who stood outside in the dark of the solstice morning gazing at the eclipse. That is until my body went numb ‘cause I live where it was rather chilly at that time of the AM. No longer able to distinguish my feet from the ground on which they stood, I rushed upstairs to leap back under my comforter; the warmth was invigorating rather than quieting so I settled down not for a long winter’s nap but to separate thoughts about what I had just witnessed from others that danced in my head.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun's rays from striking the moon. In other words the light of the sun is not able to shed its light on the moon because the earth is in between…sort of like moments in life when we are torn between decisions, can’t see beyond what is obvious, are not close enough to the end of the tunnel to feel the glimmer of light on our faces. But hopefully with perseverance and maybe a little nudging from those who care, we find a way back to our orbit.

I heard Oprah paying homage to her best friend during a recent on air interview. In part she said that Gayle was, “…the therapy I didn’t have and the therapy I don’t need.” No truer words were spoken when it comes to my friends. Goddess knows I have saved millions of dollars and hours on a couch as they spent hours on the phone to save me. My friends are like planets that revolve around me when my world is off course. Never blocking my light they only stand in my way when I can’t get out of my own to keep me from spinning into outer space. If for some reason my glow dims, their energy is what makes me shine bright until I can plug in to my own reserves. Their rays of wisdom wash over me when I am prostrate with disappointment, lifting me to be sun-kissed by the moon of a night sky as many times as needed until I am once again happy, healthy, whole and completely full. Orbiting through life with them is a blast. Never dull, we glitter like millions of twinkling stars be it morning, noon or night and whether I am with one, all, or a combination of some, it's like being in the Milky Way of love.

...and we sure can make a lot of noise, so...

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

my favorite things

My best friend and I were talking about this past year, about things we still needed to do when I found myself saying, “I really don’t remember the things I haven’t done but I do recall all the things that I did. I’ve done what was supposed to get done. I’m happy.”

It’s been a year. I walked out on limbs and dared myself to fall, crawled out on others and hoped that I didn’t. I practiced my lifelong lesson of patience with a grace I am proud of which in turn allowed me to hold onto the belief that I will receive all that I desire and deserve. There are many specific accomplishments huge and miniscule that I could recite but won’t. I know what they are, those who need to already do, and others will figure it out in their own space and time.

So don’t begin rushing around like a crazed person trying finish what you haven’t already started. Take a moment. You’ve done exactly what you were supposed to do which I bet is more that you thought. Be at peace with that and just enjoy.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

holiday blues

Each year I have the pleasure of picking decorations for a children’s hospital. As I perused Pier 1 last week, I spotted a big container of red, green and gold ornaments that seemed like the perfect mix of color and design. But as I placed it up on the counter along with my other items, I was not enthused suddenly struck by the holiday blues -- just above the register was a huge snowflake covered in glittery blues and purples. My eyes grew wide, my mouth gapped open. As it spun around, I did too with that container in hand as I began to rethink not just the color palette but my entire concept of decorating.

Snowflakes are non-denominational, airy, pretty representing the entire winter season. I visualized a hanging arrangement that combined lots of tiny whites along with some medium sized blue, green and turquoise balls that I spotted on the Mardi Gras tree, one of several in Pier 1. Of course I had to get several of those big blue flakes and bought all that they had! Going in this direction would be less offensive more encompassing. So if you are just bored with the thought of green and red schemes or don’t believe in any of the religious or cultural celebrations but love the idea of sprucing up, go winter not holiday seasonal. Add in some snow people, glass icicles that reflect light beautifully, pine cones and greenery to bring nature’s scent into a space, white roses, or anything else you find that speaks to winter and go for it.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

the season's bright

The weekends are flying by as we countdown to Christmas and I’m not ready. I used to have all my shopping completed well before Thanksgiving. If I decided to send cards, they were the first one of the season my recipients received even the years I handmade them. I abhor the craziness of Christmas crowds! But scurrying around this weekend to finish gifts, drop off token presents, support friends who have small shops, and pick up items for holiday gatherings really wasn’t all that bad leaving me enough sane energy to finally sit down to address cards which I did remember to order from UNICEF last month. I think having music accompanying me as I moved from place to place was one of the reasons my spirits stayed high, my steps peppy.

Try as I might, I can't resist adding to my collection of holiday music every year. My favorite new addition for 2010 is Christmas Cheers by Straight No Chaser. Upbeat twists to or cool arrangements on classic selections, a couple of songs new to my ears, the a cappella sounds swing, glide, pop, float and keep me smiling from the first beat to the last. I have yet to take it out of rotation when I reload the CD player.

Music really does make the season brighter and if you wait 'til after Christmas, the cost is a little lighter; I always buy just one more CD at sale price to put away for the following December 1. It's the first present I unwrap to start off the holidays (I still can’t decide which rendition by Andrea Bocelli made me shed the most tears, The Lords Prayer or my all time Christmas favorite, Oh Holy Night sung in Italian. I get weepy no matter who sings it or what language it’s sung in much like I do towards the end of It's a Wonderful Life which is coming on now, so keep your ears and…)

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

oh christmas tree

When I moved back to Washington two days after Thanksgiving 10 years ago, amongst my many boxes were three filled with holiday ornaments I had purchased year after year in anticipation of having a big tree next year to put them on; all were still in their original packaging since I never had a tree in either of my NYC apartments over the 9½ years I lived there. So on my first Christmas in DC I bought one, hosted a trim the tree party. I cooked, baked, set a festive seasonal buffet table, and kept the champagne flowing as we listened to holiday classics laughing all the way. This would be the start of an annual tradition; my home has yet to see another tree! Full disclosure…those boxes of ornaments were stored away after that first Christmas and have resided way at the back of the top shelf in a closet that is so stuffed, it’s hard to get to them. Call me trifling the thought of getting them down gives me a headache. But I do manage to create some very simplistic decorative arrangements for every room each year, put out the door mat, and hang a wreath on the door, just no tree.

On December 1, I pondered what I would do as the first holiday CD began to play. Would I unearth those decorations…what did I do last year…was there something new I could create? Nothing came to mind as I selected a wreath and mat from the storage closet. A few days later I sat in the middle of the living room floor tying up packages with strings, happily singing along to the same tunes, different genres with still not a clue. Perhaps I would once again place the tiny glass ball ornaments of various colors, some with glitter others plain into a big crystal bowl I thought as I nestled snuggly in bed later that evening. And then in the mid of night it came upon me oh so clear. That huge elongated red serving dish I picked up last year had only been used for food so far but now, just in the nick of time, it would serve up the quintessential answer to my holiday décor dilemma!

I’m so tickled with my simple variation on an old theme. When I lit the candles it was fresh, cool and sparkly and even though there is no tree, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas this Christmas where I live.

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ps – I have a date on my calendar to clean out that closet and move those boxes!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

do you

It's my me time weekend, the gift I decided to give myself when I got back from my October travels. The first Saturday and Sunday of each month, I turn off the electronics, eat healthy with the exception of one or two treats that vary depending on what I'm feeling, visit a tranquil spa for a hot stone massage or mud wrap followed by a pedicure and get my hair coiffed. My creative self awakens to explore artistic endeavors if there is something to uncover; I read, doze, catch up with myself as I catch my breath. When I wake on Monday I am restored.

These weekends really do revive me, give me the energy to propel through the month ahead and serve as something to look forward to during stressful moments should they present themselves. So it should go without saying that I do not entertain stress producers of the human sort during my sacred 48 hours but am perfectly happy to invite close friends into the inner sanctum to share a meal, tea, conversation. I take this time so seriously that it is now booked on my calendar through 2011. And why not, we schedule everything else don’t we? A break from the daily to take care of ourselves really should rank right at the top of things to do, should be honored by self and others. Honestly, shutting it down for a couple of days makes me better, keeps me sane, more focused.

The spa may not be your respite of choice, you may not be able to designate an entire two days to do you but get creative. Design some time with your signature all over it. And don’t wait until January 1 to declare it as a resolution that won’t be kept, make it a holiday gift that will keep on giving…you’ll thank me later.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Never has my laptop shut down because the battery is depleted of energy but it did last evening. As it began its internal countdown, the word “hibernate” appeared in the message signaling that the computer was going to sleep in five…four…three…two...

When I woke from an extended nap, it was December signaling the next month in what I call the season of g’s -- gratitude and giving. Who knows why in my waking mind were alternating thoughts about gifts for this year and the rose garden around the corner. Maybe it was remembering that the bushes continue to simply give of themselves in a time when seemingly they should be asleep. Like opening the door to Munchkinland, their patch of Technicolor suddenly reminds me that simple gracious giving is a thing of beauty, suggests I simply give with grace.

Simplicity. Now that that’s settled, a need to slumber is upon me once again so...

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

good stuff

I love the sound of the quiet car in the morning...especially after raucous holiday days with my immediate and extended family that includes long time friends. The belly ache I'm feeling as the train rolls down the track has nothing to do with eating too much food and everything to do with laughing long, hard and often, a couple of times as I rolled on the floor! Don't know about you but I'm stuffed with so much good stuff that a nap is eminent.

Hope you had a festive few days and that as you filled up on all the goodies of the day you also felt the fullness of gratitude for all the good that life has to offer.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the supremes

I can’t count the amount of times I have made Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings by myself. I enjoyed being in the kitchen before sunrise to dress and put the turkey in the oven then begin preparations for the other foods of the feast. There was a rhythm to the ritual, a certain order in which dishes would get made. Moving from one to the next as the aromas began to mix and mingle was joyous. Though I haven’t done it in years, I still know how to do it all from start to finish (except for the sweet potato pies) but like the fact that these days we (meaning me and my sister or friends depending on where I’m having dinner) have divided up the responsibilities.

Following a recipe to the letter never comes into play for me except when I have to bake certain things. I recall the red and white checkered cover of the Better Homes and Garden cook book circa 1960/70 that was in our kitchen when I was younger and if I remember correctly, it was like a notebook so you could add new recipes as you collected them. I don’t know what happened to that treasure. I did write down the ingredients for my favorite thing to make sans the steps to make it because I had made them so often, there was no need to jot down what to do, so bear with my description.

Supreme Biscuits
Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2 C. and ¼ tsp. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp. salt
1 stick butter
¾ C. buttermilk

1) In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Cut butter into small pieces, add to flour mixture and with fingers pinch butter and flour until it’s crumbly (you can also use two knives but I like getting my hands dirty!). Make a well in the center and add milk, stir with a fork until moistened.

2) Turn mixture onto a floured surface and knead four to six times then roll out until at least ½ inch thick (the thicker the dough, the higher they will rise). I flour the edge of a round glass with a mouth opening of about 2 inches to cut the dough. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake until brown, approximately 12 minutes. Makes about a dozen depending on size.

I was curious to know if these biscuits were still included in BH&G’s cookbooks and of course Googled to find their site. To my delight, Biscuits Supreme appeared though the measurements seemed a little different than what I copied years ago. Unless you have your grandma’s recipe, I highly recommend  these. Hot from the oven with butter, their crunchy tops and soft fluffy moist middles will make you want to slap your momma (just a saying for the unfamiliar)! And listen, forget trying to make them more healthy by substituting alternate ingredients, they just won’t be the same.

We all know the drill during the holiday season…eat the things you like in moderation, fold in some exercise and be thankful, grateful as you enjoy. Happy cooking and happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

heavenly haven

Each person comes to a trip with their own personal expectation of what they want to experience. As an artist and a person who engages all senses whenever possible, my desire is to absorb as much as I can no matter where I am knowing that at some point, it will all come out in collage or written form, sometimes both. I also try to set aside time for creativity when I travel. Visiting a gallery to view the works of local artists is my first choice however that’s not always possible. On my past two trips I packed a small kit of collage supplies that fits nicely in either my carry-on or checked bag. As hectic as our tour schedule was in Egypt, spirit compelled me to carve out some time the night before our last full day to climb into bed after a three hour bus ride from Alexandria back to Cairo to make a torn paper collage. My intention was to capture the feel of the country in strips of paper. Just when I thought it was near completion, a female form began to emerge. A goddess was taking shape and much like the very first one I made many years before, I didn’t see her coming. I’m sure she surfaced because I had heard about the goddess Hathar’s temple, wanted to stand before it but did not have the chance since it was not included on our schedule; she actually showed up at various other sites.

Sacramento presented me with such an unexpected natural goddess heaven that I never touched the collage materials in my suitcase. From the moment I stepped into the park across from the hotel, the trees engaged me in a sensual dialogue, their curvaceous forms speaking directly to the primal earth woman in me. I thought about when the creative process surrounding my goddess collages began, how pictures in magazines uncovered breasts, buttocks, the fullness of a belly. The trees seemed to want me to see their proudly displayed naked bosoms, behinds and piercings…

…magnolia bodies of females and males intertwined with one another, one of them unabashedly allowed her lover to touch the ripe spot between her thighs, sprouted red flowering reproductions from the seduction. A voyeur aroused by an orgy at rest, my camera could not be still…

 …I couldn’t get enough of their eroticism risking my safety by venturing back into the park alone on the dark rainy Sunday afternoon to get a glimpse of the trees when they were wet and glistening. Smooth damp dark brown and ebony bark reminds me of skin fresh from the shower…

Though I did not get to a gallery on either of my trips, I did find an antique bracelet on my first day in Luxor at a serious tourist trap, slipped into a small store in Sacramento that from the outside was quite deceiving; it looked like a place with lots of inexpensive touristy items that I almost passed up until I heard myself say to myself, “Don’t judge a book, you have the eye.” Treasure awaited. A weighty ornate and aged African brass bracelet winked at me from beneath a few less attractive meaningless pieces on a table so low to the ground that it almost went unnoticed. On a shelf in a glass enclosed case way in the back of the place stood Goddess Radha who had been there for more than a year I was told so of course, I plucked the bronze and brass beauty from her cabinet to keep close to me once I got home.
I can’t shake the feeling that something is brewing, has been since I was in Egypt. I was wrapped in a heavenly haven of nature’s goddesses for hours…art worn by women who I will never meet adorn my wrist…my physical and spiritual transformation…both Hathar and Radha are associated with beauty and love…I haven’t sat down to the table to see if a goddess wants to make her appearance but someone wants to make my acquaintance, everything in me feels a presence so...

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

fo fall

I love it when the leaves change into their vibrant autumnal finery and want to capture the warmth of their colors to hang onto for as long as possible; I'm not sure why my photographs of trees seem to look like one big blur of saturated color. I've abandoned taking pictures of them this season but on my morning walk, I took to looking into last nights' rain puddles to see what I could see..

When I was in grammar school, I remember an art project that required us to press leaves between two sheets of wax paper then iron it to seal them in. It was nice to collect my favorite ones then preserve them to enjoy over the winter months. To this day, I take time to scour the ground for pretty or unusual fall foliage that has fallen. Last year I collected magnolia leaves based on size, shape and curl, pulled out my acrylic paints and practiced artistic license painting several with mixtures of whatever colors I fancied. I left a few in their natural state covering them with polymer medium (gloss) to keep them from browning or tried to mimic natural coloration by combining paints that came close to matching nature. They actually look quite spectacular; I have given some away as gifts or used them as ornamentation when wrapping a present...

Lately I've been pressing leaves with either interesting color patterns and/or shapes between magazine pages, letting them dry then painting a very thin coat of the polymer on both sides to help them retain as much color as possible, I even brought back a few from Sacramento. I have the feeling they along with lots more I picked up in DC are going to find their way into a goddess collage, I feel her coming so...

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Sunday, November 14, 2010


This past week has presented me with so much to contemplate! Thoughts running every which way, tripping over each other in tangled knots. Unfinished exclamations full of emotion falling flat onto rational jargon as I hit save for composition ahead.

It started with the public unburdening of the unthinkable…

                ...gotta sit with it, run it, sort it, spit it, compose it so…

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

easy sweetie

Prior to all travel, I begin to take an assessment of what’s in the fridge that might spoil if not consumed before departure. Last week, I noticed something wrapped in foil…a little sweet potato I had baked with every intention of eating until I went out to dine instead rested on the top shelf. What to do, what to do I thought as I stood with the door ajar cool air pouring out over my feet. Mouth wrinkled in a perplexed frown, I looked around and there in my fruit bowl on the counter was one lonesome banana. Ah, yes! My palette recollected a recipe I created a few years ago when I had these very two ingredients ready for the spoil; I mashed both to use in a bread pudding which to my delight made it moist and extra tasty. Perhaps I’ll share that recipe another day, but for now here’s what I made for a breakfast that was not only quick & easy but also comforting and satisfying.


1 small baked sweet potato
1 small ripe banana
Ground white pepper
Chopped pecans (optional)

1) I chose to remove the skin of the potato. Slice into thick wedges/strips. Place in your favorite bowl.
2) Slice bananas over the potato.
3) Sprinkle with cinnamon and a little white pepper.
4) Drizzle with honey.
5) My potato had been in the fridge so I popped the dish in the microwave to just warm up…do not let it get hot. If your sweetie is fresh baked, skip this step.
6) Sprinkle with chopped pecans if you desire.

Of course this can be made and eaten for any meal, snack or even a guilt-free dessert. So the next time you’re headed off for a few days, see what you can come up with before you throw out the refrigerated goods. As my mother and grandmother used to say, there are starving children somewhere who would appreciate that food and hard as it was for me to believe back then there is nothing further from the truth!
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Sunday, November 7, 2010


…in the dream I was walking towards a porch furnished with sturdy dark wicker, a fan whirling at slow speed, people I knew or at least felt so familiar with that it felt inviting to sit down with them. Settling into a sumptuous cushioned chair, before me was the most spectacular sunset of blues, violets, yellows and oranges in hues never seen in my waking state. I quickly jumped up excusing myself as I bolted towards wherever I had come from with an urgency that sped my feet while voicing the words, “I must get my camera,” to the unknown. Midway to that place I realized I needed to go back and just enjoy the view. I turned -- it had all vanished. Porch, people and sun were not where they had just been replaced by an entirely new scene. I walked forward in disbelief, kept blinking my eyes hoping that as I drew closer to there, it would miraculously reappear; it did not…

Early on my first morning in Sacramento, the park across the street from the hotel beckoned for me to take my morning walk. I first thought that this city would be hot but found out that it has seasons much like what I was accustomed to on the east coast. I donned the lightweight cashmere sweater I had packed, a cotton scarf casually strewn about my neck and headed out to stroll under the bluest sky accompanied by the most gorgeous autumnal weather. Of course I had camera in tow but, remembering my dream, was careful to absorb moments as they unfolded not only on film but in body. There was so much fascinating plant life to meet…

I got lost with a multi-species family of very tall kinfolk each with their own distinctive personality; though I did not take the formal tree tour, there were over 100 of them to be seen noted by their identification tags…

When I woke up from that dream I had a deeper understanding of staying, living in the moment. Sometimes I will be able to visually record things, other times I will not which keeps me open to note taking in my mind, scribing on my heart, making etchings in my soul. I have stayed quite grounded on this trip, excited to take pictures while at the same time rooted in a stillness that lets me deeply take in the details of all that surrounds me from minute to moment. So on this chilly rainy Sunday, rather than call room service, I threw on some knock-about clothes, grabbed my umbrella, and used that extra hour we got to embody the city as it bathed. It felt good out there as I walked back to the hotel a salted caramel hot chocolate to warm me (OMG…sublime!!!). I did not take the camera but as I sit here typing, Pat Metheny in the background, I’m still tingling from each second of that short journey. And with contentment and certainty I write the words it will be easy to find my way back any time I desire... after all it’s all in me.

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