Secret Alphabet

Hello Friends,

So, a long time ago I lived in an air shaft of an old brewery in the Mission district in San Francisco. I listened to punk rock and had black hair. I gave myself a tattoo (still regretting that particularly lame decision…) and in general, had a completely irresponsible experience, but a glorious one too while I figured out who I was. At least at the time…

There was this song by my favorite band called X and they were amazing. Are you with me? Anyway, they played a cover of an old Doors song you may remember. Soul Kitchen. In the song Jim Morrison refers to speaking in secret alphabets. Well, we took this rather literally (Hell, that is how I got the tattoo. I made the mistake of watching The Decline of Western Civilization which  showcased how to give yourself a tattoo.) and started writing our own secret alphabets. We wrote secret alphabets of things we didn’t like, things we loved, things we wanted, boys we had crushes on… I think you get the idea.

Basically it goes like this.

Things that I love about my life

A – Apples, Adoration, Artichokes,

B – Bumble Bees, Balloons, Ballet

C – Chocolate of course, Cuckoo Clocks, Coffee with cream, Crème Caramel, Champagne

D – Desire, Devotion, Daisies

E – Elephant babies, Excellence

F – Feathers, Frolicking, Fierce Loyalty

G – Going fast, Goals

H – Holy Places, Happiness

I – Ice Cream

J – Jets, as in being a jet setter

K – Knitting,

L – Love, Love, Love

M – Mothers, Monster Cookies, Music

N – Nutella on Croissants

O – Opulence

P – Poetry, Pearls, Presents

Q – Quilts of all kinds

R – Roses, Rainbows, Ranunculus, Reading

S – Snuggling

T – Tea in a proper cup

U – Undulating wheat on a windy day

V – Vows, Veils, Venice

W – Watching Waves

X – The band of course…

Y – Yonder places

Z – Zyrtec (it cures what ails my family, particularly during these months)

So, that is how you create a Secret Alphabet. Let me know what you come up with when you write yours!



W is for Wild Geese

Hello Friends,
I spent a bit of time in a deep depression years ago. I struggled to find my way out of it and in the getting out of it. In the rising above it. In the acceptance of it and the surrender to it, I discovered poetry all over again. Through the words of someone else I was able to find my way again. The poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver is the poem that sheltered me and let me know that I could do this. From the very first line, I knew I had found a place for my diminishing sorrow and my growing hope.


T is for How We Spend Our Time

Hello Friends,

I read a couple of interesting posts lately about time and the value of time and the waste of time. As I approach a milestone birthday this year I find myself questioning more and more what I am doing with my “remaining” time.

Do you ever ask yourself this question? I am betting that you, just like me, have questioned how you use your time. I know I want to use my time more efficiently. I want to do more with less. I want to make the most out of each moment I have.

But having said that, I don’t know that I need more hours in my days. Yes, we all want more time in a larger sense, but really we have little control over the number of days we have with which to squander or hoard our moments. We do have control over what we do with the hours we are given and I think this is where I find I must know what I really want.

What is of value to me?

What do I love?

Who do I love?

Where do I want to be?

Is this spot where my feet a firmly planted, where I really want to be?

Am I filling my days with minutia or am I filling my days with value?

Am I filling my days with purpose?

Am I filling them with fluff?

In knowing what and who and where I can then move to the how. For it is in the how that we find our place.

Time is not about using time to get someplace, to get to some end. As if it is truly all about the destination and not about the journey. We all know fundamentally that this is not the case. We know that it is really about loving and enjoying as many seconds out of every minute of our existence that we can.

I came across this amazing link the other day. If you are  remotely curious about others and how they live their lives this will be right up your alley.

Big-Thinkers-Time-Management-08-685x462From Mozart to Dickens

I am starting to build a better mousetrap with my time, by noticing more poignantly what is important to me and what I need to focus on. So, I look to those I love to make sure I am spending my time with them. I look to what I find myself drawn to doing, like writing for this blog, and I am making sure I have built in enough time to do this.

So, how do you fill your days? What is important to you?




Q is For Quietude

Hello Friends,

Are you in need of some quietude? A pause in the day? A moment of silence? A place to rest the eyes, metaphorically?

Here are some ideas for gaining a bit of quietude in your busy life.

1. Create a clean surface in your home where the eyes can rest.

2. Make a small pot of tea and drink it. The time it takes to steep can be centering and it can begin the calming process we all need.

3. Look out a window for at least two minutes. Clear your mind and let your eyes wander.

4. Walk around the block. Even a short walk can bring things back in place.

5. Read a poem. Start with this one by William Stafford.

6. Rub lotion on your hands or feet. Try this one.

7. Hand wash your dishes. I know, it sounds crazy, but the warm water and the act of washing can create a relaxing moment.

8. Set the table for supper and allow that tableau to bring you peace.

2014-04-08 18.56.20














9. Write a short letter or note to someone you love. The paper. The pen. The words as they come will calm you and bring out the love you have for the recipient.

10. Breathe. I mean it. Breathe and make each breath deep.


P is for Every Picture Tells a Story

Hello Friends,
Today’s post is a bit personal. Please be kind.


Every Picture Tells a Story

Peaches have grown in California since settlers brought them to the region over dry creek beds, vast mountain ranges, and roaring rivers. With names like Arctic Supreme, Fay Elberta, Forty Niner, Redwing, and Somerset, the dreams and joys of many people are wrapped up in the notion of a peach. Sweet, sticky, juicy and maybe most important of all, fleeting; the peach can transport, enrich, and deepen one’s experience of summer.

The peach is a member of the rose family. Peaches and roses. With all things sweet, there are thorns and trade offs. I learned about trade offs in the summer of my seventh year. My mother had just moved us back to California. We were living in Auburn as if it was a way station, a stop along the way, after her heroine addict husband died in a car wreck in Wyoming during a snowstorm. Now that he was gone she could get my two young brothers back from the foster home she had put them in shortly after marrying him.

Auburn was a place where we regrouped and learned again to be a family. I shared a bedroom with my two brothers for many years after that. I may have said from time to time that I wanted my own bedroom but sleeping in the same room with them felt safe. I could listen to them breathe, deep sleepy breaths, labored at times over some bad dream, but other dreams would take their place and restore that soft breathing which reminded me that we were all together and safe.

Anne Marie looked like Shirley Temple in the movie Bright Eyes and she was my best friend. Because she was my best and only friend, she held a preeminent place in my life. Her mother, Marta, was good friends with my mother and so there were many opportunities for us to get together and play. We created imaginative lives full of rich stories of redemption and reward. Every story featured a heroine who was wronged at first but in the end always ended up with all the riches both symbolic and tangible.

One day we were left with a teenage boy to be looked after while our mothers picked up their welfare checks and took care of errands. The house they dropped us at had many windows and a little dog. As the dog yipped and snapped at our ankles our mothers drove away in someone’s borrowed car. The boy let us go through his music albums and we chose what we wanted to listen to. The sun streamed in through large many paned windows across the floral couch and sparkling glass-topped table. We lay on the cream-colored plush rug digging our toes into the long soft fibers with our long tangled hair splayed out around us like one of those drawings of the sun with many long rays spilling out all around, listening to Rod Stewart wail about Maggie May. We listened to the song over and over, singing along as the morning lazily turned to early afternoon.

He made us lunch and we sat at a small table in what can only be described as a breakfast room. Surrounded on three sides by floor to ceiling windows, a delicately woven floral rug covered the blond wood floor underneath our feet. He placed before us a cheese and bologna sandwich and a peach. As I ate my sandwich I could smell the juicy, almost cloyingly sweet peach. The colors of the peach were only heightened by light pouring through the windows. I don’t know if I had ever had a peach before, but this peach was like no other; juice dripping down my wrists and chin. Soft and tender flesh tinged rose with summer kissed color. Sweet, rich with flavor; this peach was a song and a summer day all wrapped up in one luscious bite.

You lured me away from home cause you didn’t want to be alone
You stole my heart I couldn’t leave you if I tried

As we listened to Rod explain to us what grown up life was like, as we sang along while finishing this amazing peach; I had a new awareness of my place in the world. I knew in that moment that I would never, ever, have another peach like that one. That very peach I was greedily devouring was the best peach of all. A sunny day with my best friend in a beautiful home where we could lounge on clean floors listening to a boy sing about his broken heart I knew this was one of those moments. Those moments when time stops and you see yourself experiencing something profound and fleeting.

About six months later, by the side of the freeway, Anne Marie was held for the last time in her mother’s sobbing arms as the last drops of life drained out of her. When the car crossed the median and crashed into another vehicle traveling south Anne Marie was flung through the windshield to land far off on the bank of the freeway.

By that time my mother had moved us to an old miner’s log cabin in the Sierras. We moved in with her nineteen year old boyfriend who had found this new home for us. We brought with us twelve baby chicks all of whom died within a week of moving there. The winters are cold and the drafts that swept under the doors and through the cracked windows were inhospitable to most life.