Monday, April 18, 2016

sweet ivy

There he was, nestled sweetly in a display of ivy topiaries at the garden shop last Friday, reminding me so vividly of the ones Mom grew when we were growing up in Florida. I remember a monkey, a turtle, an elephant and others - mossy animals that came to lush green life as the ivy filled in. They need water, sunshine and tender loving care to flourish. Just like we all do.

Monday, March 21, 2016

monday brain

This is my brain on Monday. Probably on most days, if I'm honest. Captured by Saul Steinberg, creative genius and one of my favorite artists ever.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Palms waving madly, bright robes thrown down along the path trod by a holy man on a humble donkey, people shouting with joy. I think of that ancient scene whenever I see bright green fronds against the blue sky. Symbol of peace, triumph, heaven.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


One of the most important things to know in life is how to cheer yourself up, a skill set that will come in very handy during times of transition, ennui and directionlessness (um, hello middle age, empty nest, self-doubt, grey days on end). It's a hybrid of self-care, creativity-seeking and just plain muddling forward by faith. And it's best tailored to individual preferences: what is effective for me may not do the trick for you and vice versa.

Begin by employing the senses. What do you love to see, hear, taste, touch and smell? Maybe it's a combination of Matisse cut-outs, Louis Armstrong, cappuccino, a dog's silky coat and a just-cleaned house. Right there is plenty there to jump start this process. Next, get moving. Stretch, go for a walk, jump a rope. This dovetails with getting outside, filling up on fresh air. Now, feed your brain with a poem or a puzzle. Then make something. A picture, a potholder, a pie. Doesn't matter what, just dabble on it for a while. Finally, conjure up the faces of the people you adore and let yourself feel their love for you. Send them loving thoughts and maybe even the potholder.

Friday, March 4, 2016

the kids next door

So the house next door is now a rental property. It's where my bestie Dr. Mac lived for decades until his death in 2011. We've been super lucky so far with fine people moving through, but it's been vacant since Christmas and the emptiness was really starting to get me down. Then, I came home one sunny, spring-like afternoon this week to find the most adorable family with two (!) children having a picnic on a blanket in their new backyard. Since they're moving from Florida and it's still pretty grey here, I thought they needed some Suarez Bakery flower cookies as a harbinger of things to come. Then I saw the rainbow dinosaurs, which captured how I felt even more. So I got both.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

power flower

When Emily moved to Washington, DC last month and left me holding her bloomed-out amaryllis bulb, I didn't dream it would actually flower again so I've hardly given it a thought. Much less water, sunshine or attention. I've been too busy missing her, missing Yates and gnashing my teeth against winter. Until Monday when this gorgeous blossom began to unfurl and, with it, every crabby, clenched muscle in my body. Beginning with the heart.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

hy there

Almost walked right by this beauty yesterday. A tiny burst of color amid nature's drab winter palette. Kneeling down close to take a picture, I caught a whiff of spring.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

the envelope, please

Lucky me to spend the first part of February first exploring envelopes with some very special people.  The envelope being a metaphor about opening up. Being open. Being aware of messages constantly coming our way that imbue life with meaning. So much love in that room. It felt like a valentine.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

to love many things

"The way to know life is to love many things." - Vincent Van Gogh
I got the book for Italia, my sister and my nieces at Christmas. And my sister got it for me. It's called Absolutely Beautiful Things by Australian interior designer Anna Spiro and it's chock full of decorating inspiration for a bright and colourful (Aussie spelling!) life. It's full of love, too, starting with the joyful endpapers, a running list of things the author adores. What great soul exercise it is to list the things you love. Snail mail, St. Ignatius, candied citrus peel, Rumi, rosemary, Rome. On and on it can go, so many people, places, things, thoughts, memories, ideas, hopes, dreams. Filling up the endpapers in the book of life and all the pages in between.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Snow is drifting across North Carolina today, but my soul is in sunny summer repose in the hills above Florence. Close enough to hear the church bells ring, yet far from the madding tourist crowds. Lost in a new found translation of The Divine Comedy - or maybe even reading it in Italian, who knows? The soul is capable of amazing things. The sun hangs overhead in lemony bright glory, orange trees are laden with fruit and a butterfly has settled softly on the spine of my book. Later, at dinner, everyone I love will be around the table.