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The End Days

Mary, our hospice nurse/counsellor, helps me feel tranquil about this period with my mother who is in a soft decline. Mom is fragile and may be swept off by a flu or cough or fall from which she cannot recover, or she may hover for months. She will probably sleep more more and then one day not wake. We cannot know. Read more

Alan Rickman

I saw Alan Rickman in a ‘civilian’ moment and have never forgotten it. Ten years ago in the lobby of the Minetta Lane Theatre, Greenwich Village, NYC during intermission at Martha Clarke’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” in the mill of buzzing strangers, there he was, a few feet from me. I poked Ric in the ribs and whispered frantically, “Snape!” Read more

Dark December in This House

On the New England coast, my childhood December in this house was music, music, music. Two years ago, December was Dad dying. A year ago, my newly replaced hips were mending. This December, the unseasonably warm world is magical. I walk along a foggy beach or in hidden woods, fallen leaves rustling under my feet. I visit Mom at her assisted living and, curled up on her bed, our arms around one another, we smile and sing in whispers like little sisters. I light evening fires in the fireplace, clean old dust out of closets, and toss the clutter my parents got too tired to oust. Lilies and white mums draped in ivy and spewing a frond of Norfolk Pine deck the mantle. I listen to the foghorn, the boat horn, the wind splattering rain on the south facing windows. I love being inside in the storm, wrapped in the house, like being in the womb, safe, not yet born. Read more

Spiritual Nostalgia

Outside the march of wide-eyed windows hovered a soft, gray dove of a day. People swathed in loose garb pooled on clumps of blankets. I knew them well. Seekers. Those with a faint curiosity rarely curve into my orbit. Seekers, often not understanding why they have driven or flown exhausting distances, come to struggle with frustrations that have been brewing for months or years. They settle on the pale wood floor which is harder and less reassuring than their comfortable couch at home, a home which may not feel like home anymore because obligations have filled every corner and pushed their souls out onto the back porch. Read more

Sufi Thoughts

A dervish turns in white garb. A beautiful performance, beautiful costume. The tall hat, special leather shoes, a long circular skirt hemmed with rope to pull the fabric into a disc is crafted to be seen. But for most turning hours, dervishes whirl in soft, old clothing, in the shadows, feet bare and hair ragged. It is not the look of it, but the true heart heating… Read more

Her Sojourn: My Body’s Post-Surgical Trauma

My body strengthens and slowly begins to elongate. I trust her to find her way. I trust her to do as much as she needs and can. She returns to me as she can, and I feel the happiness of her mending in the wisdom of her own timing. A year after surgery, she gives me more than bits and spurts of energy. We have chunks of industriousness and verve. We move, wider, faster, longer, more happily. We are together again, my body and my head. Read more

Ravenrock Notes 2015 Week 2

Grieving

A storm grumbles in the distance, plodding slowly across the canyon from behind the mountains. A wood pewee sings over and over and over again a clear plangent descending note. Sitting in the Ravenrock Barn, I grieve both parents. Until now, I haven’t had time, energy, or distance to grieve, my hip surgeries coming so soon after my father’s death. (My mother, still alive at an Assisted Living, seems permanently away at college, living in a dorm, having a happy life with not only no thoughts of me but no thoughts at all.) Here, where nothing but a few inherited rugs and pieces of china are associated with my past, I can look as one gazes at a valley from a summit, no longer seeing it from within in myopic fragments.
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Ravenrock Notes 2015 Week 1

Art in the Sky
One reason I love the southwest is that I like good art. The sky here is good art. One has to like the predominance of blues and whites as well as the pinto pony patches sliding over the land’s crags and bumps. The magician plays the light, revealing and hiding, scuttling along the eternal, unmoving rockface. These variations change more swiftly than the languid seasonal flow of light. My surrounding in not a reliable sundial of elastic shades reaching and shrinking readably as a clock. Read more

Confessions Week 5: The Fall of Flow

What if you had no job, no school, what would you do? At Ravenrock where society doesn’t remind me of its mania, I construct a few rituals to keep me on even keel. Morning tea. Late afternoon meal and washing up. These frame what is otherwise an organic flow. I have creative and household projects lined-up as sanity guideposts in case I become overwhelmed with aimlessness and the terror of irrelevance, moody bluesy-ness that can disrupt my peace. But always in the front of my heart is the Fall of Flow. Read more

The Party

I’m taking a break from ‘Confessions’ with this vignette from bellydancer life.

I was at some party or other in Austin, TX. This was twenty years ago, and the hostess, one of my occasional students — she was perhaps in her early 50’s, attractive but riddled with concern for her appearance, probably a therapist, I don’t quite remember, and definitely living in a lush if not terribly tasteful fashion — introduced me to a couple, also in their 50’s. I was at the time a very young-looking and hip 40-year-old. She told me their names, then said, “This is my bellydance teacher, Dunya,” as if holding out a surprise prize bird.  Read more