Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Current posts may be seen at http://www.mimseybythesea.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Farewell, Godspeed.

 This is my last posting from Christine in the Shire where all the postings began. It is fitting it is November, the month I moved to a chilly basement, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The movers who brought my boxes and sofabed from Eureka, California looked around and asked, "You gonna live...?" They didn't even finish the sentence. They didn't know what the faeries of my imagination would do to a concrete floor and leftover furniture. Voila! It became a magical hobbit hole which I release with much reluctance and great affection. 



I am dazed by the loss.
Where in the five stages
of grief is such an unknown country
devoid of whimsey and elegance located?
The people who will soon inhabit,
conquer, change what to them
will be a substantial, freshened house
with a view of deep woods
and creek, what will they care about?
Will they sense the Ring connection
(Wagner, Tolkien)? the laughter?
the dire straits?
I hope for children.
 I hope for an evergreen
on the deck lasting from December
through February decorated with
generous peanut butter pine cones. 
And heirloom miniature ornaments?
I hope for large dogs and small cats.
I hope Honor's ashes find
a peaceful rest in misty Portland,
city of roses,
  but here in the front yard of Fairoaks Circle
my unlikely landlady's shamrocks
will grow jubilantly, riotously year after year
after year. 


...may the blessings of departures and arrivals be yours...     

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Guest Editor

When I was down in the Shire packing up my souvenirs, I came upon a poem Lucille had written to me. She was a law book editor and witty essayist. I asked her once to be a guest editor on the blob but she laughed that idea away. However, now that she doesn't have a say-so, I want her to be my guest. I'm certain if she decides to haunt me over this act of defiance, it will be in a delightfully Irish way. 

Just Desserts

This is not your birthday cake.
If you celebrated birthdays,
it would be your birthday cake.
But, since you do not celebrate
OCCASIONS, it is not your cake.
Besides, today is not your birthday.

It is my birthday cake,
or it would be, except that today
is not my birthday, either.
My birthday is next week,
when you will not be here.

Today is not the birthday of anyone
who lives in this house.
If we eat the cake tonight,
it will not be a birthday cake.

It will just be our desserts,
yours and mine.
Cake and frosting.
Billy Collins*
*O.K. Billy Collins did not write this poem.
And it is not actually a poem.
If I were Billy Collins, I would write
a poem for your birthday. Maybe.
I do not know if you even like Billy Collins.
Maybe he will write a poem for my birthday?
I do know that birthdays deserve celebration,
and you deserve poetry and cake and all things good. **
**The best I could do between the time I got home and the time your feet hit the stairs.~~H.
Honor Cunane

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Blob

I am my brother's sister. I have started a new blob. This one will have only poems and essays and eventually, my one and only short story I which I wrote on Clipper Street in San Francisco in 1964. http://innochronologicalorder.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wednesdays with Arlette

Woods Edge * Durham, North Carolina

I've been reading poems lately in prose format so I thought I'd write some prose in poem format:

the world is full of bad news

every day an onslaught


negativity is banished in the Shire

you will find no bad news here


The last time I saw Arlette was on a Wednesday. I know this because we used to get together at her Woods Edge apartment on Wednesdays. We had established a Quiche Day as Arlette was the Queen of Quiche and I was the Queen of Talk. She'd busy herself for hours preparing our lunch and I would busy her with stories. Then while I ate everything before me on my plates, she would return the favor of storytelling. She was from France and two years older than I. She recounted the Nazis coming; the journey to England to become a parlor maid to a duchess; a marriage which took her to Brooklyn; the cancer death of her son after he had spent eight years in Hawaii without a visit home; and the early death of her husband. There had been a lot of tragedy in her life but she was just about the most upbeat person I had met. Her daughter was not interested in quiche or the seven course servings on duchess style china. Arlette and I were left to our own Wednesday adventures. She experimented with place settings and recipes to her delight. One day she concocted a specialty in my honor. When she announced what it was, I wondered how it would taste. It was wonderful. Spaghetti Leftovers Quiche. We listened to Jaques Brel or WCPE. She wrote out the words of my favorite songs in a beautiful script with French on one side and English on the other. I only knew her for a few months before leaving for my Western trek, first stop Roanoke. However, her stories lived on. Everybody's favorite seemed to be when she almost spilled the soup on the Prince of Wales. I loved her charming accent, her lovely pastel paintings of children, and her elegant menu. Sometimes I encountered her on her walks which were twice as long as mine and mine were certainly plenty long. This morning I found her phone number and called. Her response was as if I had been for quiche just last week. Her daughter was picking her up for an outing and we'd have to plan a get together soon. Tomorrow is Wednesday. Do you suppose?


...may the blessings of little do-overs be yours...


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Current Posts

Current posts may be seen at http://mimseyinthetreehouse.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Himself, the Daddy

My dad was a fair-minded man, the Libra of all Libras. One of his amusements was to have me argue both sides of a question. This worked well on topics such as mosquitoes. Yes, there should be mosquitoes in the world because of the food chain; we wouldn't have toads without mosquitoes. No, mosquitoes are bad because they kill humans indiscriminately. I liked keeping my responses simple. I was a simple child. However, if the topic was one about which I had passionate interests, the going was tough. I remember the Sparkle Plenty exchange. No, it's not good for girls to have dolls as they are better off exploring the natural world and housing a pet cockatoo instead. Yes, every little girl should have a doll. Personally, I didn't really see the point of the discussion. Anybody attempting to take away my Sparkle Plenty doll, my one and only childhood carry-on item, was in trouble. I found these exercises in fair-mindedness tedious. Nowadays, though, as I read some of the heated debates about health care, flu shots, guns, abortion, and civility, I'm thinking my dad gave me a rare gift. None of these "threads" existed in my day but if they had, I would have been taught to see both sides. Seeing where people "are coming from" helps to know where they are going. The whole point of my activist existence is to set the record straight. There have been times when it was futile to find the good so for myself I have instead of seeing the good in all, I look for the good and hope to find it. I have learned my dad's lesson but I have applied it differently. I'm reminded of a lecture I heard years ago in which a man made the startling pronouncement, "You have to close your mind to keep the garbage out." The Amish have shunning and the snobs have social exclusion. I have drifting off to a better planet. My dad, strange to say, would approve if I had first given the party in question a hearing. Next Monday, I will have my memorial lunch for the anniversary of this splendid man's death. I will go to Kildare's for a traditional Irish repast with my traditional hot water rather than a Guinness . My dad wasn't Irish but as in everything else, he gave it a try during his six years in Belfast and I hear tell he liked it.
...may the road rise up to meet you with a couple of characters along the way to learn you...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Passing Angels

I call them Passing Angels, my bus encounters people. I had planned a different topic for my blob but then malware invaded the Dell in the Shire. Tuesday came and went. There is always a reason for such events. Randy said he thought Earthlink had an "outage" and I needed to scan for malware. Malware was found and the outage seems to have turned to inage. I tend to skip the science and look for Another Reason. I think, in this case, the reason was Todd. I was at the Franklin/Rosemary bus stop when I heard this man ask if the (couldn't hear which) bus had gone by. No answer from the requestee so I piped up and said, "The N is late if that's the one you are catching." He replied, "No, I'm going to Timberlyne to check my mail." That seemed odd. Timberlyne is way out in the country whereas a post office was around the corner. He was a nicely dressed, almost preppy, stocky man with a milk chocolate complexion verging on dark chocolate. He had a soft Southern accent. I then said I liked the Timberlyne route which brought forth one of those, "Since the time I've been here" remarks which prompts a, "Where did you from from?" comment. It turned out he was not from these parts. He was from Philadelphia and had known and studied with some famous artists such as the cartoonist who drew The Family Circus. He said his father was a writer and his mother an artist. Early in life he learned to join words with drawings. He gave me some water color tips as it is my favorite medium. And some Amtrak tips for going to Philadelphia. We talked about the wonderful statue of the woman seated with her suitcase in an old-fashioned summer dress and hat. Suddenly my bus came. The lateness had been just enough. I got up from the bench and he asked earnestly, "What is your name?" I said, "They call me Mimsey." "I'm Todd." "Thanks for the art lesson, Todd." I leave it to you. Do you think this is why I was kept home working on the computer? Is this why my bus was late? Is this one of those angels with a directional sign pointing me towards Central Park with a sketchbook in my hand? You know what I think.
...may passing angels "speed you with a song, a melody of Heaven"...
Peace Angel: courtesy of Bernadette Deming

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ya Me Exista El Dia

Photo Credit: William A. Bake
Call me She Who Does Not Finish. Perhaps it's my horoscope which is a broken record of the warning, "Don't scatter your forces." However, I don't buy my horoscope because where I was born the stars were all upside down. Maybe it's because I am, according to Barb Sher, one of many a Scanner. These are good people who simply dabble in everything and there's no time left over to accomplish any one of the tasks. Get this: "What you've assumed is a disability to be overcome by sheer will is actually an exceptional gift. You are the owner of a remarkable, multi talented brain trying to do its work in a world that doesn't understand who you are and doesn't know why you behave as you do." !!!! I started a novel in '79. So far, no one has taken the title. A sign? I did write 92 pages and 150 drafts of those same pages. I told the story except for the ending to dozens of people on trains, planes, and buses. I imagine somewhere right now someone is wondering whatever happened to my delightful character, Evy. I had a dream once where Evy did the same. She came in a whisper of a cloud and asked, "What happened to me?" Guilt trip. I honestly don't know. There are several possibilities. She either succumbed to a recurrence of polio, or married Bartholomew Fields and together they created an orphanage in Cadiz, or quite possibly he died unexpectedly while filming in India and Evy went on alone visiting her old home on the Outer Banks where she became an artist of paper cranes. I asked several authors to write it for me with the identical response, "It has to be in your voice." Oh, bother. I also started an autobiography in 2003. I really liked the first five paragraphs. I liked them so much, I couldn't go on. Nothing seemed as lively or inspiring as those five paragraphs. Therefore, announcing to you that this is anniversary week on the Blob comes with great pride in achievement. I was only going to do one post on January 7, 2009. And yet, here I am. It is an unfinished work but a continuing one. I was looking at the entries of an old Gratitude Journal I kept in 1999. Every single day is accounted for. Another achievement. The last scribble says, "I thank you, my Gratitude Journal, for your attention and guidance and friendship, discipline and sympathy." Perhaps it is a fitting quote for the Blob as well. Perhaps a Scanning Gemini/Sagittarius is nae sa bad. A few things do get done and the itinerary always reads, "And then...."
...may the blessings of projects awaiting be with you...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sad News

Wedding Photo: Courtesy of Charles Letts
Photo Credit: poconoangel


Charles LettsJanuary 9, 2011 at 1:22pm

Subject: Mario Cavallini Sondra Ball

Hello. I am a friend of the late Sondra Ball and Mario Cavallini. Mario was tragically killed in an auto accident on 12/30/2010. They published a poetry site Autumn Leaves. I do not know how to tell poetry type people of Mario's passing. Do you have any suggestions? Here is a link to his death http://www.facebook.com/l/84a79mL0OaAn_NZfCnm9gPBdO8Q;notice.http://obits.nj.com/obituaries/sunbeam/obituary.aspx?n=mari


Among my first entries on the Blob, I published one of my favorite of Sondra's poems which I came across one chilly evening in Eureka, California. I am re-posting it here in the memory of the the two who were so kind to me.

Early Winter on the Brandywine
by Sondra Ball

By the edge of the Brandywine

where weeping willows grow,

I find a fallen tree trunk

still clear of snow.

I sit upon the tree trunk,

watch grey green waters flow

southward towards the Chesapeake

through banks of snow.

I sing to the Brandywine:
green waters,

clean waters,

where do you flow?

I hear the river answer:

over hills,

over rills,

through the white snow.
By the edge of the Brandywine

where weeping willows grow,

I find a fallen tree trunk

still clear of snow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cardinal Hollow

My dad's brother, Henry, was a major figure in my life. He was the only uncle who wrote regularly during my childhood overseas. He liked to decorate the envelopes with National Wildlife Federation stickers and the latest of stamps. This may have been a side effect of one of his jobs as he rode the rails for the U.S. Postal Service. Henry was a railroad man and a letter writer. He was fond of birds and monarch butterflies. When I visited him in his efficiency apartment with no yard in Albuquerque, he had a stack of my letters, some opera records, and wanted to know if I ever received the postcard with the photo of the cardinal painted on the mailbox.
An excerpt from a letter:
Sunday, November 23, 1986
Would you believe it--I planted over 2000 shrubs and trees on the 60 acres at the Hollow with the aid of an Indian helper. I also bought a telescope and became a watcher of the skies, purchased a pair of binoculars and became a fair to middling ornithologist for a country boy. My immortality will be back there where I mostly planted varieties that would reproduce themselves for thousands of years and where my unknown, unseen epitaph will be at the base of a mighty {stained, unreadable}. I have a few more months before my eyesight completely fails. It is wonderful to know of such events in advance. One sees many, many things in a new, brighte {his spelling} and more beautiful light." Because of the name he gave the property in northeast Oklahoma, I associate cardinals with him and his homeplace. When my grandson was born, another Henry, I saw a cardinal out the window and felt the spirit of poetry and opera my uncle had always loved. A cousin sends this memory of Uncle Henry: "I never had a conversation with him that didn't include him quoting long passages from Shakespeare's plays. He put off having cataract surgery because he enjoyed the personal light show of lights at night - said neon lights were like his own private fireworks display. (If you've had cataracts you'll understand, if not - you won't). Monarchs used to go through St. Louis county when I was a kid. Thousands of them...I remember the very last cardinal I saw, too, it landed on a branch in the winter right outside the window of the classroom when I was a jr in high school. Never saw another one again." Lucille asked if I noticed the bush, Nandina Domestica, next to the rhododendron where the cardinals have been gathering at Bag End Garden. Considered by the Chinese to ward off mother-in-law problems, this particular plant of hers is a relative of the one in the front as a result of tossing branches over the deck above me. The red berries complement the cardinals as though pre-destined. George writes: "My mom loved cardinals. Ever since she passed away, she has made her presence known to family members through ornithological form--very noticeable, as in crossing in front of me when going up the driveway or walking down the bikepath, or driving down the road. And cardinals moved into the neighborhood AFTER I moved to our current home." Will, a longtime birder in New York states, "They have always been here." His favorite spot for looking is The Rambles of Central Park. A quote from an events calendar explains why. "Lose yourself in a 37 acre woodland as your guide from the Central Park Conservancy leads you through a maze of pathways and scenic wonders." I've heard that cardinals are the state bird of seven states and have a tidy repertoire of songs. As I feed the cardinals here at the Shire in North Carolina (one of the states), I ask them if they know a little La Boheme. I like to sing along, of course.
...may the melodies of our feathered friends bless your day...

Photo Credit: Harvey Doerksen/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Photo Credit: Michael Fenichel
Eureka Christmas Tree Addition: Randy B.
Last year at this time, I posted a "Person of the Year." Eva Sachtschale was my choice and I'm pleased to update you on her progress. She had a very good year. I'm thinking for this post, instead of a person I would like to suggest a symbol for the coming year. I'm big on positive symbols as you know (like the logo for Save the Children) else why would I have turned various apartments into a Little Red Schoolhouse, a Shire, and a Treehouse? For this last Tuesday of 2010 post, I am ending with a look to the future instead of the past. One of the images that captured my imagination recently will be my new "Metaphor for 2011" image. Remember the post about the 500 Santas in Central Park? Well, on that same day, I was sitting in the Boathouse Cafe. I was struck by the beauty of the view: a rowboat anchored with a small Christmas tree in its stern. I thought of the several times in my life when there has been upheaval and I felt I had been set adrift in a rowboat under a big sky and wondered where I would be led. There had been a feeling of exhilaration at what I might find and a timidity that I might be not up to it, guided though I was. As I was looking at the pond, I thought I would update that image to, The Christmas Tree in the Boat. Yes, our boats set sail for 2011 but they are beautiful boats with all good things in them. In my case, the number 20 is my birthday number (and my daughter's and granddaughter's) and 11 is my dad's and son's birthday number. What a splendid year it will be. Christmas will follow us all of the days. Postcards along the way are in our destiny!
New moon coaxing stars
To sprinkle bright messages.
Peace, good hopes be yours.
...may the blessings of a New Year surround you and grant you adventure...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter in the Shire

Photo Credit: B.E. Hobbs
My mother used to say that the most important thing in life was to feel useful. She didn't "pursue happiness." It came to her. She wasn't big on presents as, according to her, they put the emphasis in the wrong place and there was the undercurrent of obligation . It tickled me how my dad would buy something he'd like to have and she would buy something she'd like to have and they would exchange those as gifts. I'll never forget the year my dad received a tray with legs. He exclaimed, "I didn't know I wanted breakfast in bed. What a great idea!' and she said, "Big slippers! In the same style and color as in years past. What continuum!" Continuum was the name of a book my brother had a photo in so we used the word a lot. When I said one year that I was going to start a new tradition of only giving Christmas presents to children, my folks heartily agreed, "Such a relief!" My dad was a fan of C.A.R.E. Off would go a package to a different location each year. We were very budget minded as money saved was money that could be shared.

I found such a batch of old Christmas poems here in the Shire that I decided I'd post two from long ago. As you can see, my writing style has not changed over the years and my tender view of life only acquires more patina.


I sit with Christmas on my lap,

my tiny gift encircled by

bits of pine and ribbon,

shy angels ever making music

on sea-blue paper;

hopefully it holds the scents

of a cheery morning,

the memory of snowy childhood years

read about in books darkly illustrated,

the sound of tunes quietly harmonious.

I muse on how to wrap

the wishes that it brings--

how to stow away

a thousand crystal moments

of good will and joy

that I should like to place in it,

which when opened would burst

like time-studied flowers

into an exquisite bouquet.

Go, my little messenger,

my packet of good thoughts,

spread dreams of hope and peace

and Merry Christmases to come.


Chrysanthemums lean like choristers

singing an earnest prayer;

measures greet me on the way

up the garden steps as I welcome

happy parcels in...stories all the quiet evening

with the hum of distant carols...

scents of dry jasmine, salvaged

from a summer's scouting,

and fir.

Everywhere, irrepressible joy--

messages, smiles, songs, secrets,

gentle rememberings

and scattered projects

stuffing each moment's fill


A special time brings

a special wish:

Merry Christmas


....may the blessings of a holy night be yours...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Music of Thanksgiving

WQXR, the classical music station in New York City is hosting, "The Gratitude Project." I'm fascinated by the comments, the little histories. Most of them have to do with the first time the writer heard a particular piece at what age. The variety of pieces is amazing, not much duplication. I can't remember the first time I heard anything. My favorites seem to be part of my childhood, as though I heard them all at once. I thought about what I would choose if I were to comment. I associate different works with different people rather than thinking about the music itself. Pictures at an Exhibition takes me back to Cali, when my brother was sketching a "book" of short poems and I thought he would become a famous artist. The New World Symphony reminds me of Jonesy, the violinist/soldier near the end of the Second World War. Appalachian Spring became very important when I lived in Boone and heard the North Carolina Symphony play it in a summer concert. Un Bel Di is clearly a June Till memory; I never tired of listening to her singing, so powerfully, so lightly, when we were in high school together and she was Most Talented. The Russian Easter Overture instantly takes me to when Daff was studying Russian at Appalachian State and we went to Winston Salem with my mother to see the Lovefeast at Home Moravian Church. The Organ Symphony brings to mind the family visit to EPCOT where in the country of France, the simulated hot air balloon was accompanied by its lush grand chords and sweeping melody. Chopin's Tristesse "belongs" to my dad and The Lark Ascending belongs to Will. Nobody better claim Der Ring des Nibelungen; it's Lucille's! There is a site for old mysteries posted on YouTube. It is a gift to us all from a fifteen year old in Spain who had a grandmother he called Nan. He has uploaded videos she had in her attic. She apparently taped British comedies and comedic mysteries for years. He writes that he doesn't watch them himself but this is his tribute to her. I know now that whenever I hear Capriccio Espagnol, I will think of Nan. Should Gustav Holst's The Planets air, I will think of starman2110 (whoever he or she is) who has brought the uploaded many episodes of Waking the Dead, A Touch of Frost, and Inspector Morse. I don't understand the copyright issues. There should be some and I hope these sharers will not see fines in their lives. Meanwhile, I appreciate their efforts. As for the topic of gratitude, foremost for me is The Moldau. Its rushing river, wedding festivities, optimism, and longing for home never ceases to astonish and gladden me. Tell me what you would choose, or tell WQXR.


...may the blessings of melody reminders uplift you...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Posts while in New York may be viewed at http://mimseyinthetreehouse.blogspot.com

Monday, July 12, 2010


Sophie with Will's Flowers
Photo Credit: Lucille Fidler
There is and has been a lot of speculation about Emily Dickinson's life as a poet and recluse. Some say she was a lesbian in love with her aunt. Another book I read said she wore white everyday because of a severe eye condition which is why she had a trip to Boston to visit a doctor about an operation. A recent work suggests she had epilepsy. A writer from Tennessee claimed to read abortion in the lines that include a known potion used in her time for said event. Personally, since I heavily identify with her poetic reclusive nature, I don't delve into the why's. I don't like to think of her dearest friend in the family feuding with an outsider. I let them rest in peace. For all I know she might have worn white after reading Alice in Wonderland. At her bidding, the extensive correspondence was burned after her death and it occurred to me, though I would never compare myself to her, that I wouldn't want my correspondence burned. Today's post is about leaving the Shire. It's time to shutter up, to say goodbye to the Shire for awhile and I thought I'd print part of a message I sent so that people wouldn't speculate about me. I have been a mostly contemplative person but an open one. I treasure transparency. If I start a family feud about what I write, I think that is unfortunate but it would be started anyway for those who do feuds. My friend Dian in Roanoke types me as a faerie and I have always liked that image, touching lightly here and there. I think you'll have a good sense of the identity of the blobber from this portion of an e-mail. Alas, with no mysteries to solve, there will be no book written about me and my poems. A very good thing. Old-fashioned correspondence is rare in this age of the quick, texted note but I'm a harker back. I like the pretty stationery, the time-consuming pace of handwriting which is almost an art form, the wax stamps. Here then is my version of Emily's, "Letter to the World"
"good morning to you. i'll be sleeping as you read this. it was a
lovely outing with daff and b.e. to casa ibarra and then getting
some groceries for the remaining few days. henry was with his indian
friend who had moved to vancouver but is back for a visit. it was
nice talking about b.e.'s next year at app. it will be her last for
band. she hopes to go on the trip the band is taking to spain but
money is tight. even at an instate school, her tuition is
outrageous. it was a rare girls night out. i doubt that there will
be another. times change and she will be involved with her friends
and jobs. i've been lucky to be part of her life. i expected to come
down from boone to babysit when she was one and then go back up to
the mountains but here i am still. we talked about mimsey camp when
i was at woods edge and had the little corner screened porch right
by the woods. i was able to put a lamp out there at night and it was
really like camping. deer would come up and fireflies galore. in her
junior year, she hopes to have an apt which will cost less than dorm
living. i'll bet it will be a lot like woods edge as far as decor
goes. i can imagine her staying in boone the rest of her days."
...may the blessings of old-fashioned correspondence be yours..

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hand-Me-Downs and Pass-a-Longs

Out of the Closet, Housing Works, Angel Street. Those are the names of some of the thrift shops in Manhattan. Ever since I first fell in love with a table (yes, the nine kinds of love such as agape, platonic, romantic, and everlasting don't mention love-of-furniture-with-a-history) at a Goodwill in 1963, I have been a frequenter of thrift shops. I gravitate to the ones whose mission is of particular interest to me. I was delighted to discover that Club Nova in Carrboro--the Town of a Different Flavor next door to Chapel Hill--is patterned after Fountain House in New York City. Mental illness is their focus. I saw The Snake Pit with Olivia De Havilland when I was 12 and it influenced the rest of my life's peace efforts. I felt if something could be done about mental illness, something could be done about interpersonal relations. All good things would come of this! Here is what I found on the web:

"Club Nova is a psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) program for adults with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) that are over the age of 18 and residents of Orange County. As a clubhouse community, Club Nova guarantees members a place to come, a place to return, meaningful work, and meaningful relationships. Membership is completely voluntary and without time limits. Each member decides his or her level of involvement and participation. Club Nova highly values work as part of the rehabilitation process, providing meaningful work during the day, as well as opportunities for employment in the community though the Transitional Employment (TE) Program (see links to the left for more information about employment). Club Nova also provides a social program and community support services, as well as some case management and crisis intervention."

"Fountain House is dedicated to the recovery of men and women with mental illness by providing opportunities for our members to live, work, and learn, while contributing their talents through a community of mutual support.

We are committed, as we have been since 1948, to bettering the lives of people with mental illness everywhere. We do this through the development of innovative techniques, research and sharing knowledge with others."

A new thrift shop which I will have to post at a later date has the clever combination of "thrift" and "Tiffany's" in the name. It's somewhere along 3rd Avenue as I recall. When I get back to the Treehouse, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, my wish is that you take a couple of items from times past to your local thrift shop and remember the advice of my Uncle Halit, "If you buy something, you have to give something away." In this age of Share, passing along your favorite stuff is the ultimate sharing experience.

The photos include a banner from Fountain House, a logo from the New York City Opera, an inside look at the (diabetes research) Cure Thrift Shop, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

...may the blessings of the river of giving be yours...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Homes Away from Home

Summer has arrived in its fullest brightness. These sweet sunny steamy southern days remind me of when my dad was assigned to Liberia while my mother and I fanned ourselves in St. Pete before air conditioning in our house was a staple of any month from March to November. I remember going to the movies not so much for the movie itself but for the icicle decorations outside advertising to the world that inside we could be chilled to the bone. Those were the precious afternoons of "double features." I remember coming in from school to see my mother happily ironing (!)while listening to the latest on the radio which seemed to be tuned solely to news of Mickey Mantle. Letters from my dad ran to five or six typed pages. He didn't fade under the heat the way I did. The mail boat went out on Fridays so each letter was diary like. He never skimped on detail and found humor in everything. His postcards, on the other hand, said all we needed to know in few words and a good picture. B.E. said something nice when she came over. She said, "No matter where you move, your place always smells the same." I was surprised. I asked, "What does it smell like?" She said, "Wood and memories."

...may you find old postcards and significant scents to bless your day...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nearing the Solstice

It was a seashell kind of morning. I expected to walk out of the door of the Shire and find the ocean rolling along instead of the trees. I put on the bracelet I received on my sixth birthday and Diansica's beads from Key West. Daff and Oto gave me a L'Occitane tote which I immediately decorated with a sunflower. I wore my Thomas Tallis skirt (named after the fact that I had sewn it just before singing in the tiny New Hope Presbyterian Church for the first time and the anthem was by Thomas Tallis). Then it was off to Mexican food at Casa Ibarra, the beautifully restored yellow house in Hillsborough. After lunch we stopped in at Goodwill where I gave a little gasp. The Angel of the Day had been a card B.E. made several years ago, "The Angel of Kite Flying." I've never known quite what it meant but as I was browsing the books, I saw The Kite Runner for 81 cents. It's a book on my list to read. I opened it to see how I liked the beginning paragraphs and discovered it was set in Golden Gate Park where some kites were flying, "...a pair of kites, red with long blue tails, soaring in the sky." A blurb review by Isabel Allende stated that after reading this book, everything else seemed bland. Sounds good!


...may your special day be either a good memory or sometime in the future and bring you blessings.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"An Actor's Life for Me"

mad hatter art by henry hobbs

The first movie I remember seeing was Lassie Come Home. I became an instant fan of the movies and, of course, Lassie. The year before, my family had a cocker spaniel but since I was very small, she sufficed as a big dog. Subsequent to Lassie, favorite actors and actresses included James Mason, Juliet Binoche, Jeremy Irons, Julie Harris, Harrison Ford, Theresa Wright, Jane Wymark, Susan Wooldridge, and Jennifer Jones. I gravitated to movies about spies and couldn't resist a good romance. A remaking of a Victorian era novel was a true happening for me. I was intrigued by an interview on the Dianne Rehm show with Simon Tolkien, the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Simon has stepped into the writing field with a "courtroom drama" which begins in WWII in Normandy. My cup of tea and if a movie is made, I hope one of my favorites is in it. Alas, it probably won't be Johnny Depp who is one terrific actor but turns down standard parts. The first time I saw him was in a movie where he was bagging groceries. The next had him making a grilled cheese sandwich by using a steam iron and ironing board. Quirky is also my cup of tea. As a teen I bought two movie magazines in hopes of seeing Jean Simmons or Richard Burton. It was not the gossip I looked for. It was the photos of roles they played. I begged my uncle to draw a sketch of Jean Simmons as Young Bess. It was as good as Hans Holbein any day. My high school days were full of art from the silver screen adorning my room. I also was keen on finding out about the stars' childhoods. How did they get to where they were? So when I read an article last week about Johnny Depp in Boom! (a Piedmont publication) I thought, "I need to put him in a blob and I need to quote this paragraph. It may explain why Johnny Depp has a fund of joy in his acting." I asked permission from the writer of the article, Barbara Perry, and her reply was, "... if you footnote the quote and say something about 'reprinted from the Internet - unverified' it should be ok." So here is the Unverified You Didn't See It Here First choice paragraph:

"'At my house dinner easily could have consisted of a bologna sandwich, and then you'd split. You might come back later and grab a few peanuts, and you'd split again. I would go to my buddy Sal's house for dinner. I couldn't understand what was going on with everyone sitting down together.There was salad and appetizers and soup. I had no idea about that.'" Perhaps he and I have a quixotic childhood in common. Perhaps a quixotic childhood is the training ground for superior acting. My mother thought so. She said I had the makings of a fine actress. I said excitedly, "You mean I could play the legendary tragic heroines--Anna Karenina, Juliet, or Camille?" My mother did the arching the eyebrow thing and replied, "I was thinking comedy."

...may days of theater magic bring you blessings...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Boxes and Boxes

Life after the Foreign Service for my folks was very much like life before; they moved on the average of every two years. Was this out of habit or because of opportunity? The coffee reports my dad wrote morphed into a newspaper column--same wit, detail, and optimism. My mother began a oft repeated mantra, "This is my last move." She described each as, "Boxes and boxes." No wonder. The souvenirs, the books, the writings, the scraps were treasures. I'm glad to have been the family historian even though I had no sense of systematizing, archiving, labelling. Things simply ended up in boxes and boxes. However, these boxes tell the stories of my life and how I held together the evidence of other people's lives in reverent cohesion. Here is the my cross-stitching of an alphabet sampler with peacocks bowing gracefully. Over there is the budding collection of blue bottles. The poster made from a photo of Winston Graham's garden is hung with "The String of Stars," paper stars Barbara Emily and Henry made one summer in Roanoke. An antique jewelry case holds broken halves of earrings but not just any. Nothing is Just Any. A decorated shoe box with Helpers written across it contains letters from friends along the way. A scrapbook is filled with calling cards of people long dead who stopped to visit my parents when they lived in Guatemala, their first post. I have considered scanning and filing objects and drafts and art but what a project! And wouldn't it be missing the tactile thrill of touching something very old and kin? For years the realization that after "I'm gone" most would be tossed, recycled, and worst yet, ignored, has haunted me. Yes, I have been haunted by Proust and Time Passing. My possessions would be kidnapped, somebody else's project, and I worried. It has become increasingly clear to me, though, that the worry was not about me. It was about these things being cared for. A sketch meaning nothing to an outsider has been lovingly protected for decades. A tiny geode which might be overlooked has housed memories no one could replicate from viewing a photo. My connection to inanimate objects began at the age of three when I explained to my dolly that tea would be late. Letting go would be appropriate but not characteristic. The clutter proofing magazines all tell me peace would be healthful. However, my health may be better because of my "friends": the petite Eiffel Tower with its patina harboring the scents of World War II; the wooden camel with the miniature perfume bottle in its cargo, the perfume long evaporated; and what about the "Remember Who You Are" bracelet crafted in Eureka? Or the wreath of fox grape gathered behind the cabin? Must I really dispose of the mint tin filled with my grandmother's buttons? Who would know about the candleholders made in the garage opposite the beach house by the policeman who escorted me to the polling booth? Who's to note the scratched water color set (with some missing) was my mother's when the jungle was her back yard? Lucille writes, "The organizer I follow, Julie Morgenstern, objects to folks who tell you to clear out everything. She does not think that is necessary. You organize to retrieve stuff because you need to be able to find what you want when you need it. You also clear out things that YOU do not want, but not things other people say you shouldn't have. You have to be safe (can't leave the unused bear traps on the floor covered with old laundry--my example) and clean enough to be sanitary, but you do not have to be minimalist. She says that beautifully organized houses on the outside that have organized and kept the wrong stuff are not organized. Nor are houses where things have been where things have been stacked and stored to be out of sight but where no one can get to what they need."
City Song
He has 2 friends and me.
Incredible variety.
My son climbs dreams instead of trees
and leans to swing off rocking chairs
carefully angled to miss by inches
the farthest point
he calls, "Land Ho."
...may the things that you have bring you the blessings of remembrance of things past...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Morning Unlike Others

In 1988, while living in a cabin in North Carolina near the Blue Ridge Parkway, I came across a publication from Caldwell Community College. I was impressed with the artistry and layout and decided to submit a poem for Volume Four. This was a jewel of a poetry "magazine," printed on white cardstock style quality paper. The name appealed to me, too. Branches. I was delighted when my poem was included and even more delighted when it was accompanied by a photograph by Peter Morris whose name I knew from Boone's The Mountain Times. It was a photo of an Amish boy peeking around a barn. It captured what I liked most about the publication--clean simplicity like laundry hung on a country clothesline gently flapping in a breeze. This was not one of those pretentious modern poetry (?) concoctions where I would have to weed through a poem to find at least one image I could latch onto. Neither was it sappy in any way. For Volume Five, I decided to submit two more, one an Easter poem. Laurette LePrevost didn't give me any hints so when I saw it had been illustrated with a drawing, my delight was even greater. I didn't know if it had been especially "commissioned" for the poem or she found something she thought would fit. It's one of my regrets that I never took the time to find out or thank the artist. I did meet Laurette when my daughter took me "down the mountain" to Hudson, NC to hear Clyde Edgerton speak at CCC. I hope I remembered to thank Laurette for the sketch by Hannah Hunt. I tried Googling Hannah to see if I could have permission to use her drawing and that took me on another adventure. It's such a name in history. I was glad to discover Hannah Hunt married Thomas Grey. My mother often quoted the lines from his Elegy in a Country Churchyard. "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the summer air."

For your Easter Sunday, here is the poem:

Down the road, a child practices
"Rustle of Spring" on her grandmother's Chickering.
The small farmhouse windows are propped
by foot and a half split logs;
the arpeggios reach our cabin as if
a part of the night's programme.
The cats sit on the porch rail
contemplatively, a model audience
grateful for the warm companionly air
which brings a crowd--moles, robins, tree frogs.
Easter here is a sneak-up-behind kind of joy:
red leaf buds suddenly opened,
creek violets in a
"Surprise!" pose,
juncoes twittering at our
slow-to-see handicaps.
I hum along. Spring rustles in
and out of Amanda Beth's fingers
and joins the quiet roar
of the land reborn.
...may the blessings of renewal be yours...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passion Week

artwork by bobby janz

"Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stand about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide."

--A.E. Housman


This time of year brings many things: rains, flowers, deep-dyed Russian Easter eggs, open windows, plant sales, top to toe cleaning, sneezes, and the kind of optimism which comes from surviving winter. Consumer confidence rises and shopping bags begin to fill. Store windows display comfortable easy-care clothes one might actually be interested in wearing. Not all of these apply to me. For instance, cleaning fits come over me on Tuesdays regardless of the season and I am consistently confident consumers will pay a passel of pennies to eat out. The mortgage may fall behind but a latte a day is the last to go. From whence this confidence? Passion Week is a clue. Pastor Ray gave a sermon on "knowing." "Be still and know that I am God." I've thought in the past that people come to knowing through experience; enough incidents add up to an aha! moment. It happened to Charles Wesley and John Newman that way. But now, I think there is also a brain/visual component. You either "see" it or you don't, the way some people see turquoise and others don't. Maybe faith is akin to cataract removal--suddenly there is clarity. I always feel sad when a person doesn't understand my cosmic connection. It's like someone saying, "I don't believe in quarks." What to do? What to do? Go forth. Do good. Hope. I have a constant need to tell all. "Did you know that at a Moravian Lovefeast the service is all music and the Communion elements are a mug of coffee and a sweet bun? Did you know that in southern Mexico, a church serves 7Up thinking it is a sacred mineral source? Did you know that gossip ranks right up there with murder as a sin? Did you know that the definition of sin is to be separated from God?" The drawing above is my brother's from when we lived in Jerusalem. How did we get there? A miracle plain and simple. I love the exuberance of those sketches which I keep in a special box. I regret that his faith changed as well as his art. Mine didn't. It couldn't. I was there. I had been led there. I knew what there was about. I was healed there. My mother said we were there because I "asked." I wanted to go to the Holy Land more than anywhere else on Earth. The complications said journey entailed could only have been managed by a loving hand. My brother was faster paced than I and yet he took me for jaunts all over Palestine with a running monologue. "Solomon ruled here. Right on the very spot you are standing on. That's Rachel's tomb. It's not as fancy as the pyramids. She was modest and dutiful." I've been walking in that beauty ever since. In high school my friend, June Till, sang what might be called my anthem, "I Know that my Redeemer Liveth." A woman named Clara Scott wrote the hymn, "Open my eyes that I may see" and Fanny Crosby, the blind hymnwriter from New York wrote 9,000 hymns! including Blessed Assurance. Oh, oh. Here I go telling (well, telling it like it is necessitates calling it preaching) again. Bon Jovi says he wasn't born to follow. I, on the other hand, was.


...may the blessings of knowing that all is known be yours...

Monday, January 4, 2010


This is anniversary week at the Blob. On January 7 of last year, I investigated a link sent by a friend. It was a blog called My Manifested Reality. It was quite spectacular with a daily quote from the Dalai Lama, fishes swimming, and a gorgeous sort of brocade green silk background. I noticed a "Create a Blog" sign. I says to myself says I, "Why not?" I was only going to post one time just to see how it worked because Michael Evans had wanted my opinion on what was the best way to mount his memoirs of life with Susanna Foster. Well, my blog didn't come out nearly the extravaganza as his did or Mr. Manifested Reality's but I was hooked after that first post.

It was the ideal format for me and I liked the perky modest look. Then came the "widgets." Instead of fishes, I had a climbing frog. Instead of the Dalai Lama, I showcased Tolkien. I added photography (microscopic and scenes of New York City--how prophetic!) and the front page of the NYTimes. In honor of my father, I tossed Aristotle and Socrates in the mix and a slideshow. On my first "cover letter," I made a typographical error which came out to the whimsical word, "blob." Perfect. Dian of Roanoke suggested Facebook. I says to myself says I, "Why not?" I was only going to try one post to see how it worked. Sound familiar? I discovered I could post Chad Mitchell songs and articles such as the one about Grover's Corners. There were orgs which I could link like Save the Children, Poets, and Oxfam. And quizzes. Did you know I'm a Basset Hound? Somewhere along the way, I spotted Share the blob. Next came "Be a Fan." Why not? I became a fan of so many sites I can hardly keep up on the feed. Ask me anything about the latest in science, San Francisco, gay marriage, farmers' markets, and opera (among other topics) and I can make a good stab at a fairly lengthy conversation. Four days into my Facebook adventure came a Friend Request from someone Dian knew in New York. Why not? After that came Amtrak trips and this is the last post from the Shire because I'm off to the Treehouse by the East River.(http://mimseyinthetreehouse.blogspot.com) There is a lesson in this folks and it's not the one about, "Be careful what you wish for." It's the "Say to Yourself, Why Not?" lesson.
...may the blessings of little ripples be with you hasta the second anniversary...

Friday, January 1, 2010


photo credit: Henry Hobbs

Lo and behold. I must have known I was going to be a blobber. I found an old very short poetry column I did for the community newspaper my dad started in retirement. Here is the New Year's entry for 1962:

"January is the time for kings. The Magi brought gifts for the Child, while in the west, the god of gates and doors was being worshipped. Let us be kings in our own hearts and remember our treasuries of blessings this first month of the year.

The beautiful days of my life
Have lost their number
And weave in quiet assemblage
Through endless, lanterned archways.
Clouds and trees and monuments,
Gulls and winds and elegies
Dance with people, passing.
I have seen festive tables
In stately elegance
Shimmer in the sun.
I hum a soft surprise
And step in time with the grand parade."


The following year, there is this entry.

"Don't forget that whoever opens the door and lets the New Year in has its responsibility and must be hospitable to the unpredicted guest.

A whisper of a smile

And January comes.

A year begun on gentle sighs,

A heart that bravely strums

Its song of love.

A whisper of a smile will linger,

Will caress us as we dream."


...may the joy of good resolutions, this time kept, be with you...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

People of the Year

Hobbs & Sachtschale

I'll spare you a treatise on Time's Person of the Year and tell you instead whom I would like to have seen on the cover: my young friend, Eva. She's 16 and represents to me the spirit of perseverance, creativity, and honesty that make me glad she is on the planet. It's people like Eva who will be the fixers of the world us elders have handed down in a shabby state. She had a sudden, tremendous loss this year and I so loved what she wrote on her Facebook that I asked permission to post it.

"About Me:

I lost my dad over the summer, he died on a hike with my brother, he just got dehydrated. Dying should never be so simple, so quick. Not now. Not my father, my role model, he cannot die while I am but 16. My mom devastated, my little sister still cries herself to sleep, and my older brother who was there to see him die, is stone. It confuses me so why he remains so unemotional, is he scared by what he's seen, by trying to save his father for hours on end without water or a phone in the mountains? I do not know. But how can my father, my ONLY father, leave in a blink. He had climbed the enormous Half Dome mountain and come out smiling. And yet no matter how hard I think it through, how much I want not to believe it to be true, he died on a day hike climbing Mt. Diablo. Mt. Devil as I see it now, the monster whose dryness, and dirt took my father from me. I am strong. I am 16, I am lost, I am old, I am wise, I am withering. Not the typical things you'd find on a facebook page..."


I would also like to mention some young people my daughter is acquainted with. She does the website at UNC's Physical Rehab. http://www.med.unc.edu/phyrehab/local-global-outreach/rehab-reader/spinal-cord-injury-sci-rehabilitation-reader-2009

The stories will inspire you. I was struck by one man's thoughts after she interviewed him, "What's the point of being negative? How does that help me?" It reminds me of an Emily Dickinson poem:

"Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune--without the words,

And never stops at all,

An sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me."


....may the blessings of a new year of healing, joy, and cosmic encounters be yours...

Friday, December 25, 2009


The angel choir at Yosemite
is different from what you might think.
Oh yes--it's there all right
scattered about
a small band at the bridge over Happy Isles
a chorale-sized group near Tioga Pass
a handful of soloists circling El Capitan.
Because of the hidden garden quality of this place
and because the Yosemite were such a
welcoming tribe, the angels assumed
certain of those pagan ways
(good angels can be tolerant, after all,
without contamination; fallen angels, weak,
have left Yosemite as there was too much
backbone to its beauty).
Their wings are not the mighty
unadorned style we've come to know.
These come greatly feathered and decorated
with carved bells,
mica glittery beads, slender dried vine ribbons,
bright cranberry-dyed woven ringlets,
and miniature pine garlands.
Their glory is so rare and charming, as
astonishing as a secret robin's egg
on the valley floor.
Tonight, I strain to hear
the scented wind of Yosemite,
the jubilant, innocent vibrato
of wing-blown angel's hum
shaping the sacred notes,
rehearsing the refrain,
"Venite. Adore."
...may beauty and peace follow you this day...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"When the Snow Lay Round About"

...The images above feature Christmas in Roanoke, Eureka, at Jan Hus Church, and Fisherman's Wharf...



Emily Dickinson wrote a poem which begins, "This is my letter to the world." I echo it by saying, "This is my Christmas card posted to the web" from the Shire, where the creek announces to the sparrows that Christmas is coming soon and they sing their carols in return. The starlight trims the skies and the silence is broken only by small creatures (advent)uring in the woods. Yes, I have caught them decorating, too! I am enclosing an old poem but new to most.


I sit with Christmas on my lap,

my tiny gift encircled by

bits of pine and ribbon,

shy angels ever making music

on sea-blue paper;

hopefully it holds the scents

of a cheery morning,

the memory of snowy childhood years

read about in books darkly illustrated,

the sounds of tunes quietly harmonious.

I muse on how to wrap

the wishes which it brings--

how to stow away

a thousand splendid moments

of surprise and joy

that I should like to place in it,

which when opened would burst

like time-studied flowers

into an exquisite bouquet.

Go, my little messenger,

my packet of good thoughts,

spread dreams of hope and peace

and Merry Christmasses to come.


...may the wonder of these winter nights keep you warm...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Destinations on the Happiness Road

photo courtesy of Jessica Osborne Stafsnes


Rosamund calls New York City a "vibrant city." She should know about cities. I've seen her mention London, Vienna, Paris, and San Francisco. What strikes me about New York City is the quiet places, the unexpected suddenly-come-upon tranquil spaces: a meditation pool inside the Frick Collection; the necklace of gardens on Roosevelt Island; the Shakespeare quotations in Central Park; a street of cottages at City Island; the bench at the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps the contrast is part of the vibrancy. If it were all noise, there would be sensory overload. Even the Ring Cycle needs an intermission. This posting is short as tomorrow I will be boarding the Carolinian, Train #80. My next post might be about the newest special contemplative spot I have discovered. Or it might be about the difference in lodgings between the Shire and the Treehouse. It might very well be about Ivan Ivanovich, the hurricane cat. Who knows where the roads goes? For certain, it always goes ahead.


...may the blessings of the Irish greeting about the road rising up to meet you and God keeping you in the palm of His hand be yours...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

May I Quote You?

My mother gave the impression of being a friendly, chatty person but actually she was quite shy and if one analyzed her conversation, it came down to a stringing of quotes which were timely and as decorative as popcorn strung on a garland. She read as fast as a passenger pigeon homing. She didn't write down her sayings or quotes. She had a phenomenal memory for long narrative poems and short rhyming stunners. And she used them. If I wanted desperately to have a dress ordered from the Montgomery Ward catalog, she was quick to say, "Consider the lilies of the field." If I pined for true love someday, she'd pull out the story of Barb'ry Allen. If I procrastinated on practicing, she would intone, "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air." There were quotation books in our house but my favorite was a large brown paper homemade looking collection called Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book (1923). I've seen quotes in magazines and as introductions to stories but I've never come across any quite like Elbert's. My research into his life has shown me that, what's more,
there wasn't anyone quite like Elbert so it's no wonder! Coincidentally, a documentary about him is being released this month. I still have not made it all the way through the book, the reason being that each time I have returned to it, I am awash in memories of my family--my dad who liked Tennyson, my mother with her quantity of cautionary sayings, and my brother eloquently reciting, Spartacus to the Gladiators. I don't have my mother's memory. I usually quote people I've overheard on the bus or friends. I only remember these gems of wisdom if I take out my pen and jot them down. What I am going to quote today, though, is the inscription my dad wrote to my mother when he gave her E.H's book:

"To my sweetheart and wife;
With the hope that these gentle
Words and kindly verses may be
The inspiration to her that she
Has been to me~~

Your eyes--and a thousand stars
Leap from the heavens to aid me;
I scale the impossible bars;
I mock at a world that dismayed me.

Your voice--and the thundering skies
Tremble, and cease to appall me;
Coward no longer I rise,
Spurred for what battles may call me.

Your arms,--and my purpose grows strong;
Your lips,--and high passions complete me.
For your love; it is armor and song,
And where is the thing to defeat me?
May 18, 1928"
The blessing this week comes courtesy of George Page:
..."My cheer is with you!"...