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Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Sheltering Patch of Pink

     After my very busy May, June has been a month of catch-up — a manuscript to polish, winter clothes to be put away, a summer garden to plant... Though my favorite season has always been fall, this go-round, I am looking forward to the long, fruitful days of July and August. Thanks to the previous owners of our home, staggered perennials welcome each morning with something new and colorful to celebrate. 
     More than a century ago, the poet William Wordsworth complained the world is too much with us. Once again it feels as if the troubles of the world have the potential to overwhelm us. How lucky I am for this joy-filled patch of land, this lush, comforting place to call home, this place where I may turn off the disheartening news of the day and contemplate the beauty of nature. My wish is that everyone had such a patch of comfort in their lives.
     As I write this, a chipmunk scurries beneath a delicate globe of pink blossoms. It's good to remember that there are yet places where hatred and hostility do not intrude. It's good to have a place where hope blooms undisturbed.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Drawer Pulls, Heel Wheels and a Most Marvelous May!!!

     Wow! May has been a busy, whirlwind month. College graduations (congrats to Cee Cee and Daniel), visits with some remarkable students, two unexpected but thrilling awards for UNBOUND (each bringing with them exciting adventures in  NYC) and amidst all the celebrating, helping to pack up the New Jersey home of my youth, the home my parents lived in for more than 40 years.

     My sister texted that the priest speaking at the Loyola graduation was talking about not holding onto things— this—  I texted back— as I am quite literally removing the hardware from mom's dresser, a dresser too cumbersome for either of my siblings to take into their homes. What makes us hold onto such things, I wondered. In UNBOUND, Grace buries a small button. Anyone ever finds this/will know we existed, she says, and perhaps that's the reason for my pilfered furniture pulls. 

   Whether its a book, a photo, or a piece of unburnished brass, the things we hold onto remind us of the things we hold dearest. 

     This past weekend, Sam, a fifth grader with wheels on his heels asked me why I write so much history stuff. I gave Sam a very writerly, grown-up answer about the importance of history and remembering the individuals who came before us. 

But on the train ride home, I thought about the wheels on Sam's heels and how strange my answer may have seemed. At 11 years old, Sam zips through life (and museums if he can get away with it). It may well be that a sense of history won't be meaningful to him until he seems to stand still while the years zip by.  

Right now, that's too much for me to think about. There's too much for me to do — I might even need a pair of my own heel-wheels!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thoughts After An April Rain

not all
from April
sleeping flowers.

some seep
into bare
or soak
into rotting

some words

in anger,
or sometimes

the tender heart
to recoil,
and the deepest
to decay.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

On Gratitude, Joy and Being Published

Writing this blog under the wire again ~ it's been such a busy and exciting month with lots of good news, some of which I just shared on my fb page, and some which I'll share soon enough. As the seasons keep rolling, I can't help but be mindful of how grateful I am to be spending my days (and sometimes my nights and weekends) doing what I love.

Writing is hard work, but it is also joy. It's the companionship of characters we come to love. It's the creation of a world that readers may want to visit ~ and for me, it's the promise of endings which offer a glimpse of kindness and hope that the non-fictional world  often lacks.

After my most recent talk, a student came up to ask some additional questions. He seemed hesitant to admit that he wrote poetry and reminded me of myself when I was in college. I'd been writing since early childhood, but for a long time was reticent to admit this. 

I repeated to the student—to the poet— what I had said in my opening comments, what I boldly repeat here because it is so, so, SO important. 

Being published does not make you a writer.  I confess that  walking into a bookstore or library and seeing the words I've written in solitude proudly bound and sitting on a shelf is wonderful in the truest, most expansive sense of the word.  I am thrilled to hear that students are reading and discussing those words and that some words have even received shiny notice. But I also know that I was a writer when most of my words remained banded together and stuffed in a drawer. Truth be told, many of my words still get stuffed in that bulging drawer. 

Being a writer, as I told the students who came to hear me speak, as I repeated to the poet who stopped by afterwards, is a way of seeing and experiencing the world and wanting to capture what you see and experience through words and images. 

So many unpublished poets and writers weave their gossamer strands of truth in quiet, unheralded solitude. A week of happy notice is thrilling, but what makes me a writer is here and now, sitting at my table, chasing words that might somehow capture my gratitude and joy.

Thursday, February 16, 2017



my video blog
was too long 
to post,
 but look for 
a book
you love 
the most 


(or, check out youtube to hear 
me reading this month's post  ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dolphins Cycling Challenge Redux

This February my husband Marc and I will  be be riding in the Dolphin Cancer Challenge in honor of Marc's sister Barb and all those whose lives have been impacted by cancer. I'm reposting my thoughts from my first DCC ride because no matter how many years pass, Barb will remain my inspiration to keep pedaling... 

Anyone wishing to donate to the challenge may visit the fundraising link at the end of this repost. Every donation, however small, brings us closer to a cure!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The Dolphins Cycling Challenge ~ We Did It!

Team Barb, Post Ride, in all our Pink-for-Barb Pride
Those of you who read my blog regularly have already met my sister-in-law Barb Burg who died this past April (Remembering Barb Burg). You  also know that in her honor, my husband Marc and I planned to ride 25 miles in the Dolphins Cycling Challenge to help raise money for cancer research (The Dolphins Cycling Challenge ~ Riding for Barb). This past weekend Team Barb raised more than 125K ~ 100% of which will donated to cancer research.

Though it was stressed that the DDC is a ride, not a race, some of the people with whom I cycled were well-trained athletes who sped by me in sleek biking outfits (rider on the left, rider on the left).  Most riders were not athletes, but even these riders (in outfits not quite as sleek) pedaled by me. When I wasn't huffing, puffing, pulling to the right, or wondering if a change in gear might be helpful, I thought about Barb.

I kept returning to one brief conversation that we had long before needles, catheters and ports entered our vocabulary, when we talked of movies, books and my own literary endeavors. We were sitting on her soft nubbly couch surrounded by books. One doesn't need to write a bestseller. Barb reminded me. Do you know how many people tell me that they want to write a book but never do? Every book written is an accomplishment.

One doesn't need to write a bestseller, I told myself as I pedaled and pushed, pedaled and puffed, as I switched from fourth to fifth and back down to third and avoided looking too far into the endless road ahead.  Every ride completed is an accomplishment. 

I believe I was the last of the pink Team Barbs to finish the ride. I wasn't the sleekest or the fastest on the team, but I was on the team and I crossed the finish line.  

I rode in memory of my amazing sister-in-law Barb and for all of us who love and miss her.  I rode for people I don't know who every day face cancer with profound courage and quiet dignity. I rode with the hope that we will one day eradicate this devastating disease.

Thanks to all of you who supported Team Barb with words, thoughts, donations and prayers. Each of you made a difference. Thanks to my husband Marc who slowed his own pace to keep me company ~ and to all those teammates who wouldn't cross the finish line without me. Most of all, thanks to Barb Burg whose courageous voice continues to motivate and encourage all of us to keep pedaling even when the road gets bumpy and steep.

Happy riders: Marc, me, Paula and David

           my fundraising page

Friday, December 23, 2016

Candle in the Window, Wreath Upon the Door

This past Wednesday was the first official day of winter though the birds have been back for awhile now and the cold weather bullied autumn away weeks ago. Hard to believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

Growing up, Christmas preparations could only begin after the magical tenth of December (my birthday). Lately, however, it seems I've begun preparing for Christmas earlier and earlier. More and more it seems that the world needs those candles shining in the window. More and more, whatever our faith or personal credo,  we need to believe in the spirit of peace and goodwill.

It seems this year has been exceptionally difficult. The radio choir sings children's faces all aglow, but the dusty, blood-and-tear-stained children of Aleppo haunt me. The bandaged face of a young man whose only desire was to live in freedom followed me as I filled my shopping cart with gifts for my family.

Most of what I write is middle grade historical fiction.  If I've learned anything from my research it's that the peaceful times we recall fondly were not really all that peaceful. While I was gleefully opening my Tiny Tears or Chatty Cathy, children in Vietnam were being born with birth defects from the endless war in their backyard. While we continue to sip our champagne, others are struggling to find clean water for their families. While many danced in squares, line and circles, others still labored in the fields.

I suppose this doesn't seem much like a holiday post. This December we are all exceptionally weary, maybe even afraid. Yet, I can't dismiss those candles in the window. That light in the darkness. That's the thing about hope...true hope continues to exist despite condition or circumstance. There is something exceptionally, extraordinarily beautiful in that.

So, this year, as I do every year (although maybe a bit earlier than usual) I placed on my door a festive Christmas wreath. And this year, as I do every year (although maybe a bit more fervently than usual) I hold in my heart a prayer for peace.

Happy, happy holidays to each and every one of my readers! I hope a little light always shines in your heart!