Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Amazing Grace (John Newton; sung by Judy Collins and The Global Virtual Choir)

This is what I needed today.  Maybe you did, too...  💗

Judy Collins Gathers The Global Virtual Choir For World Health Organisation’s Solidarity Fund ‘Amazing Grace’
by Paul Cashmere on June 2, 2020

Two weeks ago Judy Collins put the call out for contributors to the Global Virtual Choir for a new version of ‘Amazing Gace’. The message was heard by the likes of Steve Earle, Judith Owen, Beth Nielsen Chapman and others resulting in something very special to benefit the World Health Organisation’s Solidarity Fund.

Judy Collins first recorded ‘Amazing Grace’ for her 1970 ‘Whales & Nightingales’ album. She used that version as a Vietnam War protest song. She says, “I didn’t know what else to do about the war in Vietnam. I had marched, I had voted, I had gone to jail on political actions and worked for the candidates I believed in. The war was still raging. There was nothing left to do, I thought… but sing ‘Amazing Grace’.

Now, she says, it feels like the same time again.“I recorded Amazing Grace with a group of friends at Saint Paul’s Chapel on the Columbia University campus in New York City. When my recording of Amazing Grace was released it became enormously popular all over the world,” she says.

“It was written by John Newton in 1772, a man who evolved from a slave ship captain to a writer of powerful hymns, and changed his entire life, becoming a model for spiritual transformation.

“That’s what we need today once again. Stay safe, help others and pray for the planet. I am sending this song out to all the doctors, nurses and patients. We will survive this with love and music and amazing grace.”

SONGAmazing Grace by John Newton (sung by Judy Collins and The Global Virtual Choir)

BOOKThe President Sang Amazing Grace: A Book About Finding Grace After Unspeakable Tragedy by Zoe Mulford, Jeff Scher (Illustrator) 

POEM:  Grace by Sarah Gambito

You won’t
kill me
because I
will not
oblige you
by dying.

I hold all
my hands
the cherry

Clusters of

like this,

like this,

we live the
all at once

and even now.

Wouldn’t we tear
to get to
each other?

The public

the books
of its leaves,

the leaves
of its books—

denotes privilege,
gorgeous belief

that we’ll meet
again and


QUOTE:  "The amazing thing about love and attention and encouragement and grace and success and joy is that these things are infinite. We get a new supply every single morning, and so we can give it away all day. We never, ever have to monitor the supply of others or grab or hoard." ~ Glennon Doyle

Monday, June 1, 2020

I'm On Your Side (Michael Franti & Spearhead)

[Finally!  June 3, 2020 update:  Attorney General Keith Ellison upgrade charges against officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck; charged other 3 involved:  The charges come just days after Gov. Tim Walz asked Ellison to take over the prosecution.]

8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody:
The Times has reconstructed the death of George Floyd on May 25. Security footage, witness videos and official documents show how a series of actions by officers turned fatal.

My sister Mari initiated a thoughtful conversation, via text, with me and my daughter Sarah a few days ago, which allowed me to state my feelings on the George Floyd situation in particular, and racism in general.  I disagree with the vandalism, arson, and looting but, to quote Leonard (below), "Enough!".  If this is what it takes to be heard, I understand.  It is crazy that we live in a world in which Jogging While Black and Driving While Black and even Breathing While Black are reasons for murder, by police or anyone else. I can't fathom why people are more outraged by the destruction of property than they are by the senseless killings of People of Color, for decades... centuries.

Why are blacks’ anguished cries of “Enough!” never enough to stop the brutality? | Opinion by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

My new favorite word, as used in Leonard's column:
quiescent [ kwee-es-uhnt, kwahy- ]
being at rest; quiet; still; inactive or motionless:
a quiescent mind.

It is a matter of being aware of the injustice in the world, and how we, from our entitled place, can help but never truly empathize.  I felt helpless as well as enraged watching that video.  thankyoujesus for cell phones recording the truth.  At this point the officers have been charged, and we will wait to see if they are convicted (as many are not).

And, from Glennon Doyle's recently-published book Untamed, p. 206-210 (thanks to my daughter Sarah for reminding me of these passages):

"  “No, listen—this feels to me like we’ve hit rock bottom! Maybe that means we’re finally ready for the steps. Maybe we’ll admit that our country has become unmanageable. Maybe we’ll take a moral inventory and face our open family secret: that this nation—founded upon ‘liberty and justice for all’—was built while murdering, enslaving, raping, and subjugating millions. Maybe we’ll admit that liberty and justice for all has always meant liberty for white straight wealthy men. Then maybe we’ll gather the entire family at the table—the women and the gay and black and brown folks and those in power—so that we can begin the long, hard work of making amends. I’ve seen this process heal people and families. Maybe our nation can heal this way, too.”

   I was adamant and righteous. But I’d forgotten that sick systems are made up of sick people. People like me. In order to get healthy, everybody has to stay in the room and turn themselves inside out. No family recovers until each member recovers. 

       Soon after that conversation with my friend, I sat on my family room couch and patted a spot to my left and one to my right. I said to my daughters, “Come here, girls.” They sat down and looked up at me. I told them that while they were asleep, a man who was white had walked into a church and shot and killed nine people who were black.

   Then I told my daughters about a black boy their brother’s age, who was walking home and was chased down and murdered. I told them that the killer said he thought the boy had a gun, but what the boy really had was a bag of Skittles. Amma said, “Why did that man think Trayvon’s candy was a gun?” I said, “I don’t think he really did. I think he just needed an excuse to kill.”

   We sat with all of this for a while. They asked more questions. I did my best. Then I decided that we had talked about villains for long enough. We needed to talk about heroes.

   I went to my office to find a particular book. I pulled it down from the shelf, came back to the couch, and sat between them again. I opened the book, and we read about Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, and Daisy Bates. We looked at pictures of civil rights marches, and we talked about why people march. “Someone once said that marching is praying with your feet,” I told them.

   Amma pointed to a white woman holding a sign, marching in a sea of black and brown people. Her eyes popped and she said, “Mama, look! Would we have been marching with them? Like her?”

   I fixed my mouth to say, “Of course. Of course we would have, baby.”

   But before I could say it, Tish said, “No, Amma. We wouldn’t have been marching with them back then. I mean, we’re not marching now.”

       I stared at my girls as they looked up at me. I thought of my dad in that therapist’s office all those years ago. It was as if my girls had turned to me and asked, “Mama, how do you imagine we might be inadvertently contributing to our country’s sickness?”

   A week later, I was reading Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, famous essay “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and I came across this:
       "I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.”
   This was the first time I had encountered language that defined the kind of person I was in the world. I was a white person who imagined herself to be on the side of civil rights, because I was a good person who strongly believed in equality as the right idea. But the white woman Amma had pointed to in that photograph wasn’t staying home and believing. She was showing up. When I looked at her face, she didn’t look nice at all. She looked radical. Angry. Brave. Afraid. Tired. Passionate. Resolute. Regal. And a little bit scary.

   I imagined myself to be the kind of white person who would have stood with Dr. King because I respect him now. Close to 90 percent of white Americans approve of Dr. King today. Yet while he was alive and demanding change, only about 30 percent approved of him—the same rate of white Americans who approve of Colin Kaepernick today.

       So, if I want to know how I’d have felt about Dr. King back then, I can’t ask myself how I feel about him now; instead I have to ask myself: How do I feel about Kaepernick now? If I want to know how I’d have felt about the Freedom Riders back then, I can’t ask myself how I feel about them now; instead, I have to ask myself: How do I feel about Black Lives Matter now?

   If I want to know how I’d have shown up in the last civil rights era, I have to ask myself: How am I showing up today, in this civil rights era?

   I decided to read every book I could get my hands on about race in America. I filled my social media feeds with writers and activists of color. It became very clear very quickly how strongly my social media feeds shaped my worldview. With a feed filled with white voices, faces that looked like my own, and articles that reflected experiences like mine, it was easy to believe that, for the most part, things were fine. Once I committed myself to beginning each day by reading the perspectives of black and brown people, I learned that everything was, and always has been, quite far from fine. I learned about rampant police brutality, the preschool-to-prison pipeline, the subhuman conditions of immigrant detainment centers, the pillaging of native lands. I began to widen. I was unlearning the whitewashed version of American history I’d been indoctrinated into believing. I was discovering that I was not who I imagined myself to be. I was learning that my country was not what I had been taught it was.

   This experience of learning and unlearning reminded me of getting sober from addiction. When I started to really listen and think more deeply about the experiences of people of color and other marginalized people in our country, I felt like I did when I first quit drinking: increasingly uncomfortable as the truth agitated my comfortable numbness. I felt ashamed as I began to learn all the ways my ignorance and silence had hurt other people. I felt exhausted because there was so much more to unlearn, so many amends to be made, and so much work to do. Just like in my early days of sobriety from booze, in my early days of waking up to white supremacy, I felt shaky, jumpy, and agitated as I slowly surrendered the privilege of not knowing. It was a painful unbecoming.

       Eventually it became time to speak up. I started sharing the voices I was reading, and speaking out against the racism of America’s past and the bigotry and strategic divisiveness of the current administration. Every time I did this, people got pissed off. I felt okay about this because I seemed to be pissing off the right people. "

So, what can WE do to effect positive change?

RevAmy mentioned this in our "lovestreaming" UU church service yesterday: 26 Ways to Be in the Struggle

Now is definitely a time for growth opportunity for those whose hearts are in the right place.  I am a long-time peaceful protester (mostly feminist- and environmentally-related) but, much as I want to get out there, I will not risk my health by taking to the streets.  Because of my decimated social life, I have extra money, and have decided to donate to Together Rising, Glennon's organization. She speaks her truth, which also happens to be mine.  I trust her judgment as to where she allocates the money.

SONGI'm On Your Side by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Ransby

Choke by Karim Eltawansy

A tattoo of birds
in the cage
of my throat.

I can’t breathe.

The world
is an eye
open to the


How many poems
do you have
by dreaming

of fire? of water

too late, too little
of breath
on the feathers

a naked cat

is sculpted into a

Tell me: the sculptor
was using his
fingers as

a ruler: his palm

a throne. I hold
all of life in
my throat. I hold

the 7th heaven

on my devil’s whisper. A genie says:
what a genie says:
I’m not available right now

get in the car.

The lamp holds
nothing to the candle
wish of tongue, holds

a shadow in the corner
of my eye: blink
thrice if a baton chops

because someone says, gravity. I’ve heard

a lot of songs about misery, but
never felt a bullet
slash through my body’s

grass limbs. Had I

to describe this membrane
what its body looked
like in breath

in its lover’s casket: I say,

brave, one syllable drops
at the speed of exhale: one
Marlboro tastes like

a carcass: if you ask
me about Africa I’ll
point my thumb down

the chamber, stick my
head in the camera
lens, fall into

black, black, black

QUOTE:  “Breathe. Breathe deep and pure and smooth. Concentrate on it. Breathing is the pace you set your life at. It’s the rhythm of the song of you. It’s how to get back to the centre of things. The centre of yourself. When the world wants to take you in every other direction. It was the first thing you learned to do. The most essential and simple thing you do. To be aware of breath is to remember you are alive.” ~ Matt Haig

Friday, May 29, 2020

Singing from the Window (Dave Matthews)

Much to feel good about this week.  Through a series of interesting circumstances I reconnected with a sister of my best friend in high school. Mary still makes pottery, and I am going to order another piece from her soon.

Had an impromptu meet-up with Sarah, Colin, and Eric in the far parking lot of Sarah's apartment complex, where drawing/writing with chalk is the highlight.  I asked S if he sleeps with them, because he double-fists throughout. "He would if I let him", she responded.  Always a lift. He is so smart and adorable (not that I'm biased or anything...  ;-)

Thanks to my sister Mari (she called herself my "Facebook Cliffs Notes" but I changed that to "Facebook Guru") for telling me about the conversation with Indigo Girls, Glennon Doyle, and Abby Wambach last night.  Was hoping I could view through YouTube, but no...  Jumped back onto FB (temporarily) for 90 minutes of wisdom, tears, and smiles, as they all interviewed each other.  Actually found a link to share, and I plan to re-watch later today.

And today is NancyW's birthday!  We arranged a Zoom meeting with Nance, Judi, Suzanne, and myself... but little did she know we were surprising her with other friends popping in:  SusanP, Brian, Sarah/Colin.  Invited a few others who had to work or couldn't make it.  Conversation and laughter ensued, and of course there was cake, a card, and singing... 💖

So, as is tradition, five items below of beauty, interest, and humor to brighten your day/weekend/week.  Enjoy!  

~ Turning Your Backyard Into a Vacation Spot:  With summer camps shut down and beach vacations seeming risky, homeowners are investing in ways to create a summer retreat at home.

~ Simple Stretches to Combat All That Sitting:  Done correctly, these restorative stretches, working on muscles from your eyes to your toes, really do make you feel better.

For Those Who (Privately) Aspire to Become More Reclusive
 (thanks to Michele for this beautifully insightful article; also, check out The Book of Life website...  :-)

The End of Meat Is HereIf you care about the working poor, about racial justice, and about climate change, you have to stop eating animals.

Kacey Musgraves sings "Burn One With John Prine" to John Prine

SONGSinging from the Window by Dave Matthews

BOOK:  Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

POEM:  Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

QUOTE(S):  "Experience life in all possible ways ~ good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don't be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become." ~ Osho

“The shortest distance between two people is a song.” ~ Edith Barnard

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (Elton John)

While reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle, I ran across the passage below (had no idea about this theory):

When we visited the Louvre, we entered the Mona Lisa room and found a crowd of hundreds pushing, jostling, selfie-ing all around her.

   I stared from a distance, trying to appreciate her. I really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I wondered if all the jostling people understood or if they were just acting like they did. A woman walked over and stood next to me.

   She said, “You know, there’s a theory about her smile. Want to hear it?”

   “Yes, please,” I said.

   “Mona Lisa and her husband lost a baby. Sometime later, her husband commissioned this painting from da Vinci to celebrate the birth of another baby. Mona Lisa sat for Leonardo to paint her, but she wouldn’t smile during the sitting. Not all the way. The story goes that da Vinci wanted her to smile wider, but she refused. She did not want the joy she felt for her new baby to erase the pain she felt from losing the first. There in her half smile is her half joy. Or maybe it’s her full joy and her full grief all at the same time. She has the look of a woman who has just realized a dream but still carries the lost dream inside her. She wanted her whole life to be present on her face. She wanted everyone to remember, so she wouldn’t pretend.”

   Now I understand what the fuss is all about. Mona Lisa is the patron saint of honest, resolute, fully human women—women who feel and who know. She is saying for us:

   Don’t tell me to smile.

   I will not be pleasant.

   Even trapped here, inside two dimensions, you will see the truth.

   You will see my life’s brutal and beautiful right here on my face.

   The world will not be able to stop staring.

SONG:  Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters by Elton John (everybody knows his version, so here's a cool cover by the Indigo Girls...  :-)

BOOK:  Katie: Katie and the Mona Lisa by James Mayhew

The Aerodynamics by Rick Bursky

The night she walked to the house
she held a string; on the other end,
fifty-three feet in the air, a kite.
Wind provided the aerodynamics.
Does every collaboration
need to be explained?
She tied the string to the mailbox
left the kite to float until morning.
Every night this happens.
She sleeps, I listen, darkness
slides through us both.

The next morning
the string still curved into the sky
but the kite was gone.
This was the morning
newspapers announced
the Mona Lisa was stolen***.
This was the morning
it snowed in Los Angeles,
the morning I wore gloves
to pull from the sky
fifty-three feet of frozen string.

***From The Writer's Almanac:  On August 21, 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The theft was pulled off so well that no one even noticed.

The next day, an artist named Louis Béroud went to the Louvre, intending to paint a girl doing her hair in the reflection from the pane of glass in front of the Mona Lisa. He wanted his painting to be a commentary on the debate around putting glass in front of paintings in the Louvre.

But when he got to the wall where the painting usually hung, it wasn't there. He asked the guards, and they said it was probably being photographed. But it wasn't with the photographers. The director of the museum, Théophile Homolle, was out of town — a man who had said the year before, "Steal the Mona Lisa?You might as well pretend that one could steal the towers of the Cathedral of Notre Dame." Finally, museum officials got together and the police were called in, and everyone realized that the Mona Lisa was really gone.

The Louvre was shut down for a week to search every inch of it for the missing painting — since the Louvre takes up 49 acres, it was no easy task. But all they found was the frame and piece of glass.

More than two years later, in Italy, the thief contacted an art dealer and offered to sell him the Mona Lisa for $100,000. The art dealer met him, along with the director of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, explained that all he wanted was to return the Mona Lisa to Italy where it belonged. He said he would sell it as long as the men promised to hang it at the Uffizi and not let it go back to Paris. Peruggia was, of course, arrested, and the Mona Lisa was sent back to the Louvre … but not until it went on a tour across Italy.

QUOTE:  "Is the Mona Lisa an 'accurate' representation of the actual human model for the painting? Who knows? Who cares? It's a great piece of art. It moves us. It makes us wonder, makes us gape - finally makes us look inward at ourselves." ~ Tim O'Brien

Monday, May 25, 2020

Pie for Breakfast (Ellis Delaney)

[thanks to PeterF for this wonderful graphic!]

It is Memorial Day, a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. I should be using In Flanders Fields (which I recall memorizing in sixth grade) as today's poem. Thank you for your service... ❤

Obviously, no picnics are happening, both because of the coronavirus as well as the torrential downpours experienced today and yesterday.  
I continue to be in hibernation mode, segueing from this weekend's Sex and The City marathon to The Starless Sea novel, which still captivates.  We were supposed to have a family meet-up this morning and now, instead, hubby and I will pop over to the Hollybrook library (like I need more books, right?), which re-opens today.  One person at a time. Understood.  One of us will browse, while the other stands in the doorway, then switch...  :-)

Had the most wonderful experience Saturday night, when I was invited by my long-time friend BrianW (The Breadman!) to a Virtual Campfire of Camp Jews Don't Camp (his tribe in real-life every year at the Kerrville Folk Festival, which normally begins every Memorial Day weekend and goes on for 18 days).  What?!?  Yes!  I went once, in 1999 (with BW), only for the weekend, and the memories are forever warm and vivid.

So, Brian and a few friends organized an event on Zoom, from 10 p.m. to after midnight, one tune per person, just like a song circle, which takes place post-festival until the wee hours.  I was mostly there for those whose music I've loved and admired for decades:  Eric Schwartz, Annie Wenz, Eric Gerber, Ellis Delaney, 
Cliff Eberhardt, David LaMotte, Chris Chandler, Dan Pelletier, Chuck Brodsky, Gina Forsyth, Gregg Cagno... and semi-newbies Kirsten Maxwell, Kora Feder, Scott Cook, Louise Mosrie, Shanna in a Dress.  The songs pendulumed between hilarious and heartwarming, and I finally broke my two-month non-drinking streak with some hibiscus-cucumber sparkling sake I had in the fridge (hey, I wasn't alone, right?).  The entire evening was positively (on so many levels) soul-filling, and Brian did such a great job coordinating and emceeing.  I was so wired that, when I finally opted out about 1 a.m., I staying up for another two hours watching the aforementioned SATC marathon (the second-time-around Aidan years:  "you broke my heart!!!").

Speaking of Ellis, before she sang the subject song (my new sig line)...

"strange days we're living in, 
like some kind of dream
we've got the world in our pocket, 
popping up on little screens
I've got a distracted mind, 
wrapped up in a restless heart
how do we break free to see the lighter side 
of the way things are?"

...she related it to the times we were in, stating that people were baking now more than ever.  Oooh, pie!  This recipe sounds yum, and easily veganized...  :-)

SONGPie for Breakfast by Ellis Delaney

BOOK:  Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

POEM:  Self by 
James Oppenheim

Once I freed myself of my duties to tasks and people and went down to the cleansing sea...
The air was like wine to my spirit,
The sky bathed my eyes with infinity,
The sun followed me, casting golden snares on the tide,
And the ocean—masses of molten surfaces, faintly
      gray-blue—sang to my heart...

Then I found myself, all here in the body and brain, and all there on the shore:
Content to be myself: free, and strong, and enlarged:
Then I knew the depths of myself were the depths of space.
And all living beings were of those depths (my brothers and sisters)
And that by going inward and away from duties, cities, street-cars and greetings,
I was dipping behind all surfaces, piercing cities and people,
And entering in and possessing them, more than a brother,
The surge of all life in them and in me...

So I swore I would be myself (there by the ocean)
And I swore I would cease to neglect myself, but would take myself as my mate,
Solemn marriage and deep: midnights of thought to be:
Long mornings of sacred communion, and twilights of talk,
Myself and I, long parted, clasping and married till death.

QUOTE:  "The only cure I have ever known for fear and doubt and loneliness is an immense love of self." ~ Alison Malee

Friday, May 22, 2020

I Dare You (Kelly Clarkson)

When last I wrote, I was in a bit of a funk, so yesterday I headed to the kitchen.  Spent a few hours immersed in cooking and music (two of my favorite things), with my old-school iPod on shuffle, sequeing from Dar Williams (duh!) to Richard Shindell to Joni Mitchell to Dave Carter to Carlos Santana to Stephanie Mills (disco!) to Will Kimbrough to Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, etc.

Made chick'n salad (chickpeas pulsed in the NutriBullet, adding vegan mayo, chopped apples, sliced grapes, diced onion, and chopped walnuts)... brownies (with JustEgg)... and lettuce wraps (I scaled back/substituted to make it substantially easier than the recipe calls for).

I also experienced two very successful grocery deliveries this week, both from Whole Foods.  They actually had *everything* on my list, including JustEgg, which has become very hard to find and, believe it or not, their prices are more in line with reality.  I am forever grateful to Publix Instacart, but it's nice to have another option.  Maybe alternate between the two?  Still pondering.

Had a lovely, extended phone conversation with my friend KathyB, whereupon we bemoaned the sh*tshow that is our leadership (both federal and state) right now, and vowed to get together in their front yard for a Social Distancing Happy Hour!

Oh, I also toe-dipped back into retail therapy.  Returning to my moratorium on spending, but all three (a tiny silver nose ring, purple yoga capris, a vampire book!) lifted my spirits.

So, as is tradition, five items below of beauty, interest, and humor to brighten your day.  Enjoy your weekend! 

The Joy of Regrowing My Scallions — Yes, Regrowing My Scallions:  You’ll have to trust me. It’s more thrilling than it sounds. (thanks to Nancy for the idea, and then this article came up on my radar, so I sent it to her, and now I'm sharing it here...  :-)

With the World on Pause, Salamanders Own the Road:  Traffic is down, thanks to the pandemic. That’s good news for amphibians looking to migrate safely.

Hug guard for Nana:  I want someone to invent this for me...  💓

The Many Masks of Nancy Pelosi:  The speaker of the House has relentlessly, and strategically, made masks a part of her platform.

10 Sneaky Ways Your Coronavirus Anxiety Is Coming Out:  COVID-19 is messing with everyone's mental health. Here are subtle signs it's affecting yours, plus advice on how to cope. (thanks to Sarah, who got it from her friend Nicole!)

SONGI Dare You by Kelly Clarkson (thanks to BrookeB for this wonderful song...  💖 )

Zen as F*ck Journal by Monica Sweeney

Things That Are Changed—March, 2020 by Kimiko Hahn

A bandana. A cardinal. An apple

No. 2 lead pencil—the mechanical pencil, now empty—appears more vivid 

A box of toothpicks—now that I’m baking bran muffins

Rubber gloves: that Playtex commercial “so flexible you can pick up a dime.” I tried once and it's true. Thankfully, I have yellow rubber gloves—like those Mother wore. We never had a dishwasher. No, that was her, the dishwasher. Not even this gloomy daughter was assigned the chore. Though I did learn in Home Ec. to fill a basin with warm water and soap; wash glasses before the greasy dishes then silverware and finally pots and pans. Rinse. Air dry (“it's more sanitary”). And I do.

Scissors: I cut up dish clothes to use as napkins. When I try sewing on the ancient Singer (1930?), the knee-lever doesn’t work so I abandon the hemming. Then hand stitch while listening to the news. I am grateful for a full spool of white thread. 

Scissors: where once I used these to cut paper, now I use them for everything. Including hair. Father always directed us to use the right kind of scissors for the task—paper, cloth, hair. Had he lasted into his nineties, how would he have dealt with sequestering? With belligerence, no doubt.

Empty jar: I think to grow beansprouts and look into ordering seeds. Back ordered until May 1.

Egg shells: should I start a mulch pile? Mother had a large empty milk carton by the sink where she'd add stuff to mulch. And now T reports that because they are making every meal, Our mulch pile is so alive.

Sleeping Beauty, yes, that cocoon—

Moby Dick, The Tale of Genji, Anna Karenina—I left Emily Dickinson—Selected Poems edited by Helen Vendler in my office

Notebook: March 20, 2020
A student in Elmhurst cannot sleep for the constant ambulance sirens. She keeps her blinds drawn but sees on tv what is taking place a block away—bodies in body bags loaded onto an enormous truck. The governor calls this The Apex. And late last night, R called—“helicopters are hovering over the building!” She remembers the thrumming over our brownstone in Park Slope on 9/11. And just now I learn that religious people just blocks from her were amassing by the hundreds, refusing social distance. And I am full of rage. Some communities have begun to use drones to disperse people. The president states he has “complete power.” And I am filled with rage.

Binoculars: a cardinal



A neighbor goes out to pick up my prescription. I leave daffodils on the porch for him. I picked them with gloves on. 

QUOTE:  "Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.  We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it." ~ Arundhati Roy

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Something to Get Through/The Beauty of the Rain (Dar Williams)

I have been doing so well with Acceptance, until this last week, when I have fallen into a funk.  Didn't sleep well last night, because of back pain as well as anxiety.  Being gentle with myself today, and tomorrow I will focus on re-finding the balance between peaceful and productive.  Many things on the To Do List, and I am in ostrich mode!

Speaking of rain, we had a family meet-up yesterday at our old neighborhood park, after days of deluges (which we needed, mind you, after our April drought).  Sarah attempted to keep Colin in the parking lot with chalk, but the "puddle pool" was too tempting.  He basically dove headfirst, and, after a few minutes, looked at me and said, "Lala in?". I of course had to take off my shoes and cavort with him for a while...  :-)

Twenty-four hours later, and the thought of it still makes me laugh!
It is raining again, hard, and that's okay.  Back to my book, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, which is absolutely exquisite (you may have read The Night Circus, her previous novel, equally breathtaking).  A recent passage, positively swoonworthy... 💖

“Spiritual but not religious,” Zachary clarifies. He doesn’t say what he is thinking, which is that his church is held-breath story listening and late-night-concert ear-ringing rapture and perfect-boss fight-button pressing. That his religion is buried in the silence of freshly fallen snow, in a carefully crafted cocktail, in between the pages of a book somewhere after the beginning but before the ending."

SONG:  Something to Get Through / The Beauty of the Rain by Dar Williams

BOOK:  The Gifts of Acceptance: Embracing People And Things as They Are by Daniel A. Miller

Just Now by W.S. Merwin

In the morning as the storm begins to blow away
the clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to me
that there has been something simpler than I could ever
simpler than I could have begun to find words for
not patient not even waiting no more hidden
than the air itself that became part of me for a while
with every breath and remained with me unnoticed
something that was here unnamed unknown in the days
and the nights not separate from them
not separate from them as they came and were gone
it must have been here neither early nor late then
by what name can I address it now holding out my thanks

QUOTE:  “Resilience is very different than being numb. Resilience means you experience, you feel, you fail, you hurt. You fall. But, you keep going.”  ~ Yasmin Mogahed

Monday, May 18, 2020

Show Us Your Books (Jimmy Fallon and the Tonight Show crew)

[My library books:  everything in the basket was checked out previously, and is now due back June 1; the five on the right had been on reserve B.C. (Before Coronavirus), and I was able to pick them up today...  :-) ]

I am positively hyperventilating.  Our library re-opened.  Well, only for walk-up/drive-up service, but it made my day/week/month!

- Beginning May 18, library staff will call customers with reserved items to let them know their items are available for checkout via our new Walk-Up/Drive-Up Service.
- When arriving to pick up materials, customers should call the library when they are in the parking lot.
- For Walk-up Service: Library staff will exit the library and place the customer’s items on a table. Customers can then approach the table and retrieve their items.
- For Drive-up Service: Library staff will exit the library and hand the items to the customer through their car window. To ensure a safe and efficient hand-off, items will be placed in plastic bags.
- Customers must wear a facial covering to participate in this service.
- Customers returning items are encouraged to deposit them in the library’s book drops. 

For the record, I will never be book-deprived (when the library closed in late-March, I had 25 checked out) but, previous to the self-isolation, I loved being able to reserve a book as I thought of it, which placed it on hold and sent it to my local branch, where I was able to pick it up at my convenience when they let me know it was ready.  That service has not been available for the last six weeks or so, understandably.  Going there today to return the 20 or so we had checked out (the book drops were closed during this time as well), and scoop some up on reserve, made me feel a bit closer to "normal" (whatever that means these days).

Also, you will notice A Very Stable Genius, the book about Trump, on the far right in my photo above.  Even more relevant now, right?!?

Speaking of relevant, I can so relate to the meme below.  I love my husband, but... this absolutely describes the scene on our balcony Every. Single. Morning.  Ack!

SONG:  Show Us Your Books by Jimmy Fallon and the Tonight Show Crew (song begins at 10-minute mark)

POEM:  The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm by Wallace Stevens

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

QUOTE:  “Solitude is the greatest treasure, and through it you can rebuild your life, reorder your life, and solve life’s problems.” ~ Sunday Adelaja

Friday, May 15, 2020

All Day Long (Chloe Langford and Paul Langford)

[ Google Doodle for April 21. 2020:  "Stay home. Save lives. Help stop coronavirus." ]

Much to feel good about this week.  I gave Sarah authorization to use my Costco card, and she found everything on my list (got groceries for herself as well). Nancy gifted me with some cherry tomatoes, a container of antibacterial wipes (cherished currency), a loaf of vegan carrot-banana bread, and four ripe mangos (which I peeled, cut up, and put in the freezer to make sorbet).  I finally signed up for a Hulu account, mainly because of all the miniseries based on books (High Fidelity, Little Fires Everywhere, The Handmaid's Tale, Normal People), and have already binge-watched the first two...  :-)

So, as is tradition, five items below of beauty, interest, and humor to brighten your day/weekend/week.  Enjoy!  

~ Tonight! (5/15/20), ElizaLive, Let's Get Political, Live Facebook Stream, 5:30 p.m. Central TimeOver the years as things in the world and our country get more divided, I have been motivated to write socio-political songs. I’ve been slipping them into my records more and more confidently as I have slowly educated myself. This Friday on ELIZALIVE I will choose from my now fairly-long list and pick a variety of songs and perspectives. Please let me know any requests you have that fit the theme. ~ Eliza  

So You Had a Bad Day…  Here are some tips to pick yourself back up again, regain some dignity and soldier on after the lousiest of days.

Elmo's Dad Sends a PSA to Overwhelmed Parents at Home: "You Are Doing an Amazing Job":  Our beloved Sesame Street pals are social distancing right along with the rest of the world, which means Elmo's dad, Louie, can sympathize with all the families staying home. In a sweet PSA published on April 5, Louie applauded moms and dads for their tireless efforts to keep their kids healthy, safe, and entertained, but acknowledged this time can be "overwhelming." He encouraged parents to take a moment for themselves: listen to a favorite song, stretch, or just breathe.

Smash a Coronavirus Piñata. You’ll Feel Better.  If you cannot join, beat. Such is the resolve of creative people bashing piñatas to defeat a pandemic (or at least, excise some of their feelings about it).

~ Photographer Has Been Taking Free Family ‘Porchtraits’ to Capture SweetSilver Linings During Social Distancing:  Rather than letting social distancing keep him from his passion for photography, Dave Puente has found a way to join local families in celebrating the silver linings of quarantine.  The photographer from Minneapolis, Minnesota has been taking free family portraits that document the joyful part of community members being at home with their loved ones—and he does it all while simultaneously respecting social distancing guidelines.

SONG:  All Day Long by Chloe Langford and Paul Langford

BOOK:  A Mindful Year: 365 Ways to Find Connection and the Sacred in Everyday Life by Aria Campbell-Danesh, Seth J. Gillihan

Japanese Aquarium Urges Public to Video-Chat Eels Who Are Forgetting Humans Exist by Sonia Greenfield

hey eels aka carpet of
writhing grass aka sinews
of sea floor aka silver speckled
& smiling sand spitters

the world has gone
bonkers & even humans
can forget humans exist like
that tiny grandmother whose

white hair looked like a moon
jelly bobbing in the dry
ocean on the other side of
your glass she’s gone now &

the nurse in subtidal scrubs
that soothing blue is gone too
hey eels we have a sickness
rippling through this sea

of humanity so I’m taking
a Zoom meeting with you can’t
roll up to your window & smile
back can’t be jostled by

a family of seven edging
me away from my vantage that’s
how we are we humans we’re
just like animals hey eels I like

how you duck into your home
in the sand how you suck
yourself into your safe space
and now humans are doing that

too sucking into our safe
spaces & shrinking away from
faces coming too close
which is to say I’m just like

you hey eels beyond your
invisible walls beyond the four
walls beyond your aquarium
beyond the teeming of Tokyo

I hear wildlife is reclaiming
its spaces that pumas wander
the streets that waterways are
becoming more uncluttered by

the detritus of human indifference
hey eels every time I would take
my son to see you he would sit
by your side & I think he saw

something of himself in the way
you’re alone in your hole & in
the fear that guides your hiding
hey eels it’s where we all are now

QUOTE:  “Think of a wave: it washes onto the shore, and then it rolls back. Likewise, each of your activities has a backside of stillness. To be with people, you must be alone. To listen, you need silence. To exercise, you need rest. You do not need to inflict rest, silence, or aloneness. You can simply surrender to your existing urges for these essential actions.” ~ Veronika Tugaleva