Friday, April 17, 2015


Ethan wasn't feeling well the other day, he had a little cough.  He was sitting at the table eating his yogurt and he suddenly says, "I don't like being four." 
"Why not"
"It's not the best."
"What do you want to be, what's the best?"
It turned out he wanted to be three again, to be little, to be cuddled and pampered.  We talked about how there are times when we all want that, and that's ok.  And we talked about how it can be good to get older, too - there are things he can do this year that he couldn't do last year - like play soccer.  He's been eager to play like Marcus does.  But then he says, "But I want to be Argentina" (Marcus' favorite world cup team).  "Well, you'll have to be a lot older to be Argentina."

A couple days later when we were together we practiced soccer outside.  Before his mom left for work she said "Don't tell Nana that you want to write on your soccer ball, because you can't."  He pointed out that he'd tried to write his initials.  He got the E, but he said "I tried to make a B but I made a cupcake.  It did look like a cupcake.

Later he asked if we could practice letters on paper.  We did.  Then he wanted to tape them to the ball.  His mom didn't say we couldn't tape letters on a ball.  So we did.

We went for a walk at Vassar pond, looking for signs of spring.  We found beautiful skunk cabbage coming up and I told him that insects like to live in there to get out of the cold and rain.  He imagined them having little beds and tvs in there so they could be cosy.

We saw pollywogs (which he called hollywogs), and crayfish and minnows, and geese - and garbage people had thrown around.  We'll have to go next time prepared to carry some of that out.  He was rightly offended that people throw their trash in such places.

Spending time with a four year old, experiencing how they see the world, is one of my favorite things to do.  Sorry, Ethan, but I have to disagree with you.  Four is the best!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Crow with Valentine

Thing a Day is an online creativity group that happens in February.  One year I chose crows and pomegranates as my themes for the work I'd do and came up with little paintings each day.  On Valentine's Day I'd been busy and shortly before I went to bed, I remembered that I hadn't made anything.  I grabbed some paint and paper and made a quick crow, flying home to her sweetie with a little pretty to line the nest.

I like this crow.  I like that it feels like my life sometimes - that I am flying through turbulence and trying to keep up with the small honoring that each day deserves.  No perfection here.  But a gift.

I hope you find a way to celebrate all the loves of your life, including yourself; you can make it little thing.  Happy Valentine's Day!

For a different Valentine treat, you can see this older post.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

poetry and crows 2

Walking the first snowfall
 we dream drifted past the pond;
ducks edged away
 from  thin icy rims.

This morning
in a brittle dawn,
only reflections of sun fetching
swim across the gleaming

Friday, February 6, 2015

poetry and crows 1

                                                          A snow speckled
                                                        blossoms with crows
                                                                in the gray
                                                             morning light.

We are expecting more snow tomorrow.  Our crow friends come early looking for the food that we sometimes have for them.  When it's minus 8 degrees, you wonder how they survive these days.  One of the things that impresses me the most is how they work as a community.  This morning a single crow landed in the Norway spruce and eyed the cut up hot dogs lying on the crust of snow.  It made the call that seems to say, come and get it.  And then it sat there watching the food, not flying down to touch it.  It must be hungry - they burn calories so quickly in this cold.  But it wouldn't go after  it until the other crows arrived.  They are very skittish when there is food left for them - one or more are always keeping a watch for danger.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

winter crows

I love crows.  I love ravens, too, but we don't have as many of them here - so crows get more of my attention. 
For over 30 years I've felt companioned by them.  What endears them to me is their gorgeous solid blackness, almost negative space at times, their lustiness, their humor, their total energy.

  When I was a kid in Colorado we had their cousins, magpies, who caught my eye.  And those darned birds loved to torment our German Shepherd, Champ.  He'd be minding his own business in our back yard, and a couple of them would come sit on the clothesline just out of reach.  They'd caw and buzz by him and when he jumped at them, they'd quickly scoot just out of reach.  They seemed to find it to be a great past time.

I don't know that I paid much mind to crows until the late 70's or early 80's when I started running. My daily run began before dawn in most seasons.  I ran in all kinds of weather.  And the crows would always be there. 

I lived near Vassar campus and would head toward a path through the woods.  Crows would be flying overhead, east with me, as I ran down the street and into the trees.  They would come by in twos and threes, sometimes more, sometimes a lonely straggler.  But they seemed to want to fly toward the light.  In the evening, I noticed they'd head west toward the river - a reversal of their earlier travels.  On a windy day, when I'd be grumbling in my head, I'd notice that they were playing on currents or shouldering through a strong wind - and I'd feel cheered.  I ran for many years There was never a love of running.  My next favorite part of it was the shower afterward.  My favorite part was the companionship of crows.

I'll share some poems and paintings that have been inspired by this friendship in later blogs.  In the meantime, enjoy these wonderful birds when they come your way!  And feel free to tell my your stories - I bet we all have them.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

paper dolls for an anniversary

alma and mort
My parents just celebrated their 70th anniversary!  That's quite an accomplishment.  In trying to come up with a gift idea that would be fun, meaningful, and not add to their mission to downsize, I was stumped.  Then shortly before the actual date I hit on an idea.  My aunt Verlee is a paper doll collector.  I used to love paper dolls when I was young, made them all the time.  They don't take a lot of room, but can show a lot of history.  I decided to make a set of paper dolls for mom and dad that included clothes from the 8 decades that their relationship has existed.

I spent hours going through photo albums and boxes of images trying to find pictures that could piece together a story.  I sent my parents a card (a little lame)  to congratulate them with the promise of a gift to come.  And then I have spent the last three weeks figuring out how to do this and painting.  The dolls were the hardest part and I'm not totally happy with them, but they'll have to do.  I'm not great with the computer and took the faces from old photos, resizing them as best I could. I decided to use a younger set for the first 30 years and an older set after that.  If I were to do this again for anyone, I'd figure out a good standard body and make a few more ages so I could capture more of the hairstyles.

drum majorette and army air corps uniforms
I painted the clothes on watercolor paper, and then printed them out on thinner paper so they could actually be used if someone wanted to do that.  I'll get a folder to put it all in - and send it off this week.  It's been a great project.  I've had a lot of time to contemplate their lives and our relationship.  I hope this gift will stimulate conversation between them, help them to reflect on what this marriage has meant to them.  And I think it will give them some laughs as they share it with their friends and get to hear their stories that were being created at the same time.  As we get older, we come to treasure the stories most of all.

1970's casual cocktail clothes

1990's ski clothes

2014 anniversary celebration

Monday, March 3, 2014


Today was cold and still too much hard icy snow to get out with Ethan so we planned a make believe birdwatching expedition.  We made binoculars of toilet paper tubes glued together and decorated them, adding yarn to put them around our necks.

 Then we made up a bunch of birds that we taped around the house - in the "lamp" bush, on the fridge, taped to a closet door.

 He immediately recognized hummingbirds, owl, and robin.  Others we loosely interpreted, but he loved looking through Roger Tory Peterson's guide book to find things that kind of looked like our pictures.  I was delighted with how enthusiastic he was with the activity - we did this off and on all day.

 And later he drew his own birds.  There is nothing quite so wondrous as watching a child's imagination take over.