Thursday, November 29, 2012

Be Famous Now

What would you do if I told you I was dying?    
 ...Would you blink?

What if I told you YOU were dying?   

   ...After you finish blinking, cause I know you did ~ Would you risk dreaming?

It's All Fleeting

(Written July 2005)

The air is thick and misted with salt from the ocean.  Heavy laden as it is, it is still cooler, much cooler, than inland.  The sun is just going down.  Colors of the sky deepen and get richer by the minute...almost seconds.  The sky somehow appears more dense.  A small plane passes over head.  I wave my arms in an over exaggerated ‘Hello,’ making the kids do the same.  From time to time, a pilot will wave back by rocking the planes wings side to side... it makes for an exhilarating moment.  Try as I might, I can’t get this pilot to return the greeting.

Monday, November 19, 2012

And Now A Word From God.

Years ago I copied this article from a magazine, wish I knew which one.  The copy is barely legible, sorely faded and tattered.  I took the time to retype it, still believing after all these years it is worthy of reposting and moreover of saving.  It falls, rather befittingly, into my overall aversion of organized religion and the unfortunate number of snakes that hide behind their white collars... 

Despite it all... I still find my ‘Self’ reaching beyond my humanly limits.  I know there is so much more than this... or any one of us.   And despite what anyone says, does, coerces or expects on ANY level, the bottom line is ~ My relationship with God is just that, Mine.  

As copied from - TO YOUR HEALTH  MAY/JUNE 1999 

And Now A Word From:  God ~ By “you know who”

My Dear Children (and believe Me, that’s each of you).

I consider Myself a pretty patient guy.  I mean, look at the Grand Canyon.  It took millions of years to get it right.  And how about evolution?  Boy, nothing is slower than designing that whole Darwinian thing to take place, cell by cell, and gene by gene.  

I’ve been patient through your fashions, civilizations, wars and schemes, and the countless ways you take Me for granted until you get yourselves into big trouble again and again.  I want to let you know about some of the things that are starting to tick Me off.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall is here

Two squirrels, with tails as fluffy and fat as can be, chase each other around a tree trunk.  Faster and faster they go... round and round, on that invisible Candy Cane pathway.

Their bodies elongated, outstretched, dart like, to gain speed advantage and nix any figurative and/or literal tailwinds. 

No doubt an acorn, or misplaced foraged nut, prompted this squabble.  Their raspy, barking, chatter-chat echoed all around the tree.  On one of those ‘orbits’ I must have been spotted, for each took refuge in an overhead limb, clicking their protests from behind the first of Autumns leaves.  

Fall is in the air.  A passing breeze, firmed the notion.  The tree released a few of its personal confetti, which pirouetted and danced its way to the ground below.   A mosaic carpet of what once was, laid at its foot.  

This is officially my favorite season.  The stains of Mother Earth bleeding out before mine eyes, in this artful living palette, magically embodies my soul.  I love it when she shows off!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The day Satan went nuts ...Church parishioners bare witness.

It's Sunday morning and the sermon has just concluded.  Pristine weather allowed the stain glass windows to remain open, and morning sun dutifully illuminated them against the buildings white exterior.   Many people are still sitting in the pews.. some are exiting the building, including the few that have paused to chat on the second-story landing of the brick staircase.  The streets were quiet, as Sunday mornings typically are.  Birds flitted about readying their nests on this blessed spring day.  Squirrels foraged and feasted on the finds they hid away the months before.  All was lovely... a perfect day for a long walk with our dog... or so one foolishly thought.

Veggie-Man & Chocolate Dog Bones - Heaven help us.

Growing up my house was a bit on the - let's say - unique side.  Humor was twisted affectionately  and freely shared.  If you ventured into our little red-bricked home, it was every man for himself.  For within these walls was my Mom, a tall red-headed, Sophia Loren lookalike, bombshell.  

There she stood in the kitchen, sidetracked from making dinner.  Carrots and celery filled the sink... except a chosen few.   Her body blocked the view as she pondered her produce. 

In the meantime, unbeknownst to us, Billy - aka my surrogate brother - was on his way over for a visit.  

From time to time he would go to the church around the corner.  It was a great way of staying out of trouble, and the piano and organ in the church sanctuary ‘called’ to him.  Fifi, the beloved church secretary - saw past the riffraff of Billy’s rebellious mischiefs.  When he asked if he could tinker on the piano... she opened the church doors with huge welcoming arms.  It is here he spent hours - HOURS - practicing and literally enlightening his soul with music.  

It was common, since our house was so close to the church, for drop-by-any-time visits... Billy did this often.  We had an open door policy.  So on this day, in the door bounds Billy.  

The 'Happy Mommy Dance' brings joy to all.


I’m standing at the kitchen counter making lunch for the next day.  I vowed to myself that I would not have another morning like this morning!  I hate starting the day in chaos.  Sometimes all that is needed is a little active planning.  

Dinner tonight was quite successful.  It made for a nice evening... Why?  Because I started last night.  Geez Louise, this Happy Homemaker stuff is for the birds.

Nevertheless.... everyone is fed, happy, and organized onto the next step.  I set up the coffee pot for the morning as well.  The dishwasher is already cleaning the days ware... except for - of course - the dishes Charlee is still eating off of.  She is the last one at the table... always.  No matter.  I am still WAY ahead of the game.  Feeling good...

I scooped out some peanut butter and slathered it on the bread, doing a little happy mommy jig as I did.  

It was at this moment it all went sour.....

An odd sound came from Charlee’s direction... Why?  Well, because the rotten kid just near choked to death on her mouthful of food.   Why?  Because she just witnessed her mother attempting to dance.  She held her hand over her mouth, trying to catch the rice pieces that were flying about each time she unsuccessfully held back her laughter.  

Through her clenching teeth, she questioned?  “MOM?  {insert pause so her cute little nostrils could gasp for a breath of air} What was that?!”  

I needed a moment to catch up to what the what was she was referring to..... then I realized, it was me.  



“What do you mean?”  She spewed out another piece of rice at my bewildered inquiry, still not able to swallow.  Rice bits clung precariously to her lips, and through her self-imposed lockjaw she managed to mutter,  “What?  Are.  You.  Doing!?” 

I was now fully on board.  “What?”  Turning back to my PB & J I re-danced my jig,  “I’m happy... I’m dancing.”

That un-swallowed mouthful was thus far not under control, and when I started to dance again, she had to jump up from the table so she would not choke.  No longer able - or trying! - to contain her mouthful, she shouted a garbled “MOM!”  Rice shot in the air... and into her hand... and on the table...

Good grief?!  Am I really that funny?  Or bad?  Or... what?!  All I know is that this kid is messing with my happy moment... my successful I’m-on-top-of-it evening is being ruined by rice being shot all over my dining room.  

“Charlee!?  What?  What is so funny?!”  She choked another laugh back, as if to say ‘How could you not know?!’  “Stop!”  another piece of rice flew... “Seriously, STOP.  You’re making a mess...”  (Forget the fact that she is going to inhale chunks into her lungs.  Right now if I had to Heimlich her I fear I might be tempted to perform it with unnecessary vigor...)  “MMooomm??”  Her hands clamped over her mouth and she looked at me like I was nuts.  Nuts because how could I possibly be mad at her, when this is clearly all my fault!  After all... the dancing fool...  the parental court jester!

I said what any mother that has reach my state of embarrassing-mother-status would say,  “I’m going to punish you if you don’t stop!” 

At that moment she finally squeezed down that long awaited swallow.  Just in time to beam a huge toothy grin, sans rice, and say, “I think it’s already a little too late for that!”

Rotten kid, you’re so pleased with your funny-ha-ha...  and you think watching that dance was punishment?  Stick around kid... next time I’m going to wait until your drinking... and then watch you deal with nose squirts.....

I stood there for a moment - baffled - with my peanut-buttered knife in hand, “So, what does it mean when your daughter laughs at you when you attempt to dance...”  She mimicked my moves as only Charlee could, and said, “It means don’t do it again.”  (Okay... so yea... I'm laughing with her....)

I turned to the sink to wash the knife... she came up to my side, put her hand on my shoulder - - maybe to console me, maybe to steady me and keep me from charging her - - then giggled through, “You should be a professional.”  (Uh... Didn’t I mention I had a knife in my hand?) {insert shoulder pat, pat, rub, rub.}  “No seriously, Mom.  I would pay to see that again...”

No worries people.  She is fine... In fact, after I read her this documented proof of child abuse story she seemed to have a change of heart... Over and over she tried to make amends or retract with “I think I was just really tired.  Really.... r e a l l y  tired.”

{Just for the record... I wasn't that bad.... check out this Parental moment - willingly - caught on video.  Disco Dad Dances to Bieber

And another, just because... Justin Bieber Wedding Dance.* *No children were harmed during this video :)}  


Written many years ago... Posting it today was  prompted by the bug my 'little darling' thought she killed on her way into a voice lesson.  (So much for focusing on her lesson...)

Charlee walked up to me with a distraught face.  In her hands was the old fashioned jelly jar I gave her to collect bugs.  I found it at Dee’s.  Of course, it originally had jelly in it.  Blueberry.  Actually the best blueberry jelly I have ever tasted.  The jar was just part of an overall customer enticing plan... which worked.  I bought the jelly.

The jar now has holes in the lid.  It has already housed a number of inhabitants... and I for one, can’t wait for those wonderful summer nights when the fire flies fill our yard.  The nostalgic picture I have in my mind includes these very jars.

But for the moment, Charlee held her jar, not with joy and enlightenment, but with sorrow.  She handed it to me and asked me to look closer.  I started looking for the flying ant we had caught earlier. Thankfully, it wasn’t a termite as originally thought.  Then I reminded her, and myself, that we let the ant go.  ‘No’ She corrected me.  ‘Look, on the cap.’  I turned the cap over and saw, caught in the threaded rings, the remains of something. I t was no longer recognizable.  This was not good.  Charlee never kills anything.  We even have a hard time when it comes to mosquitos.  It wasn’t until last summer that she let us kill them.  Now, as I tried to figure out what I was looking at, she started to sulk. She was waiting for me to say something.  I knew she wanted me to tell her the bug was okay, but that was not going to happen.  There was no chance for this bug.  My silence was telling her all she needed to know. The bug was squished.

Charlee walked away.  She didn’t say a word.  Neither did I.  She gets very upset when anything suffers or dies.  She came back and asked me to please take the bug off the cap.  She didn’t want to see what she had done, the visual reminder was too much for her.  As well, she wanted her jar back.  She still didn’t say anything, however, she was way too solemn.

I figured I would just let her work thru this in her own way.  It is one of life’s little lessons.  One that is better learned on a bug than any other alternatives.

A few minutes later, I searched her out.  She was sitting quietly.  I asked ‘How are you doing?  Are you okay?’  She looked at me with a quivering bottom lip, her eyes giving away the pain she was going through.  I felt so bad for her.  I know this is about a bug, but her pain was real.  How my daughter became so compassionate and empathetic is beyond me.  But here she was.  Now what!?I was at a loss as to how to console her.  As I stood there, she could bear no more.  The tears began to fall, and with each one she spoke.

‘I didn’t mean to hurt it!  And I killed it.  I never killed anything.  Now I did!  I killed it!  The POOR bug.  It was a beautiful beetle.  I shouldn’t have picked it up with the cap!  Why did I have to do that?!’

She was so upset.  Part of me was smiling, because my daughter struck me as so loving and sweet. Here she was crying over the death of a bug.  No bug has ever been so mourned.  In actuality this was a lucky bug.  Oh, to be so loved by such a wonderful human being.

‘Charlee I don’t know what to say.  You didn’t mean to do it.  Sometimes things happen that we can’t help.  Maybe it was sick or dead already.’

I was trying anything...

‘Mommy, I killed the bug. It was alive. Its legs were moving. I saw them, I looked.’  Major emphasis on the ‘I.’  I believed her.  After all, Charlee is quizzical when it comes to nature.  We just got finished with butterflies and moths... now were onto flying ants and, apparently, beetles.  Each creature requires a Google search.  We find out where it lives, what it eats, how long it lives... The butterflies only lived for a few weeks.  So we kept them for two, Charlee’s orders.  ‘We can’t keep them their entire life in a cage.  We will watch them for half their life, then let them go so they can fly around and see the world.’  She waved her hands in the air, indicating her hope for her butterfly’s beautiful dancing flight. ‘Maybe even meet a friend and make babies...’ It was fun when release day finally came.  I bet no one was more happy than the butterfly, but it was a close tie.

‘Honey, whatever happened to the bug, it’s over. He isn’t in any more pain.’  I thought - hoped - this would end her sympathetic suffering... but all she did is look at me as though I was ridiculous and crazy.  How could I not understand what this bug went through!?  In an attempt to fully impress upon me, the full magnitude of what was suffered, she looked straight into my eyes and wailed ‘MOM, IT WAS SCREWED!!!’

I tried really hard to keep her pain in mind... however, the fact that the bug ‘was screwed’ was an understatement, and so totally out of the mouths of babes.  I had to walk away so she would not see me choking back the laughter.  am a horrible mother..... emphasis on the ‘I’.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Old Place

The little white house on the rivers edge.  A rumbling roar 24/7.  Shiny rocks, glisten from the wetness.  Ebbs spiral endlessly, swirling designs around each protruding rock.  The water gives way, weaving a path onward down the river.
(48 years old, and I think it’s safe to say that ‘The Old Place’ still tops my ‘favorite place list.’)

Driving by The Old Place’ stirred a mixture of emotions.  It is hard to believe that it has been 31 years since my parents sold it for the new place... aka‘The Barn.’  To my surprise, 'The Old Place' had been modernized into the present day... and was up for sale.   I turned around and decided to sit for a while.... 
The bedroom window, just behind the chimney, is gone.
A porch... a fitting new addition. 
The water is much lower than years ago... evident by the hovering tree trunk.
I so remember running around on those grounds as a child.  The river drowned out any insulting noises - though there really were none.  I sat there for an hour and only 5 cars drove by.  Can you imagine?!  I could see my childhood flash before me.  My sisters and I spent so many hours in that creek... creating dams to have deeper water to swim in, to corral and catch fish, to build our own river forts.  Lisa must have been about 7 or 8 years old when she reached into the ripples and came up with a whopper of a trout!  Dad had been working by the waters edge and heard her call out, “Hey, Dad, look at this!”  I don’t think she really realized the improbability of her catch.  He laughed and asked her to hold it higher so he could get a better look, in sheer disbelief that his little girl had just caught the massive trout he had so many times tried to nab via fishing pole.  The fish twisted and arched in her hands as she held it overhead.  Her bleached blond hair sticking together in drenched bunches, framing her proud smiling face... all while proud PaPa looked on and laughed out loud.  She could hold it no more, bending to the rivers bed she let the fish go.  
Lisa (5 yrs old) and Barbara (7 yrs old) - 1972
Lisa & our friends Randy & Lori ~ 1977
The pine tree is gone... and the 'coffee bush is oh so tiny...
Then there was the ‘Coffee Bush.’  Every morning Mom would take the used grounds out and dump them under the bush.  I’m not sure why this routine started, but the bush apparently loved, loved, loved this and responded by growing into a beautiful 'full-bodied' bush!  The ‘Coffee Bush’ still exists, but not with the vigor of my childhood days.  No doubt the new owners are unaware of the coffee grind rules.

The edge of the 'coffee bush'(rt) & our infamous fire pit.
The fire pit is no more.  Not to say I don’t know where it was.... We sat for hours upon hours listening to the crackling blaze, amidst the steadfast, surround sound lull of the rippling river.  No sooner were the logs lit, and Mom would walk out of that rickety old kitchen with two cups of coffee in hand... and maybe even some hot chocolate.  Using big old logs for our seats, we nestled as close as we safely could to the flames.  From time to time a bat would swoop over head, and we would squeal in horror and delight.  Sparks from the embers floated up on the heat waves, setting our sights to the starlit sky... More than our hands were warmed by those fire pit nights.
The apple tree in the corner is gone, as is the old dog house.  It is safe to say the woodchuck has probably also gone.  He graced our mornings everyday.  Many of his cousins were target practice, and met speedy ends.  But this guy was Officially off limits per my Mom.  She loved to watch him out the kitchen window, him and his brother up the street... the one that sat on the crest of the hill in front of the waterfall entry...  any other family members were fair game.  But not them.  
The outhouse was gone too.  Only a sink hole in the area it used to be.  The field above, the one with the grazing cows, was now overgrown.  So overgrown you could no longer see a field.  No way cows were anywhere in the area.

Looking back to the river, at this moment in time, I wondered how many of the rocks were still there from my childhood. The big ones of course.  The ones that nature was hard pressed to move.  But what about the little ones?  The ones we used to build the dams.  Did those still sit where we left them?
Did it really matter?  Right now.... right this second... The best thing of all, was the tranquility was as I remembered.  True.  Unwavering.   Unblemished.  
Mom and Heidi
Heidi sitting watch

June 1972... me in my 'cool' red shorts... 8 years old.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

For Naomi...

Flash back.  February 2009.
I am on one of my missions to de-stress and get some exercise.  My mind is wrapped up in thought.  If only I could be successful in fixing all my woes on this, my walking meditation... why won’t all the answers come right when you want them...?
My conversation is interrupted, “Nancy?!”  Okay I say ‘conversation,’ though it’s just me talking to myself.
I looked up to see a beaming smile radiating from the car window.  A woman’s voice spoke again, “Nancy?  Is that you?!”  I slowed my pace and tried to squint beyond the suns glare to see more clearly... as if squinting would help my failing memory issues...
“It’s Naomi!  Do you remember me?  I used to live here...”  She pointed to the home she used to live in.
“Do I remember you?!”  I laughed at her question... and was thankful that the pieces came together so succinctly.  Of course I remembered her, and her sisters, and growing up with our backyards butting up to each other.
What a flashback!  We spent an hour chit-chatting away.  We covered all the do-you-remember-when’s we could think of.  We giggled, and shared, and re-lived, and caught up... life had happened between the time the Mastrogiacomo’s moved and today... sadly death had happened in that span as well.  (Her sister Gina died in 2001, and my Dad died in 2002.  Both too soon!)
It is unthinkable that we - and by ‘we’ I mean those of us that are left behind to deal with these unintended departures - go on.  
But we do... and here we were... together again.
Neighborhoods from yesteryear seem so removed from today’s day and age.  Back then, kids left the house in the morning and were not seen, nor heard from, till dinner time.  My mother - who was ‘blessed’ with amazing vocal capabilities, that somehow cut through airwaves - would call out our side door to beckon her little ones home.  Should we not have heard, the neighbors surely did.  A virtual game of telephone would ensue, and we soon got the message.  Mom was calling, time to go home.
My sisters, Barbara and Lisa, and the Mastrogiacomo girls, Kim, Naomi, Gina and Amy ~ along with the rest of the neighborhood brood ~ played for hours.  We were 'The Neighborhood Family.'  Removed was a blood line, but no denying, we lived our lives and grew up together.  
My first memory of our new neighbors stills stands out.  It was Christmas time...  Lisa and I found ourselves in their living room staring at our first live Christmas Tree.  Go figure... we never had a live tree.  Every December a box would come out of the attic, and Dad would give the orders to separate and categorize the ‘branches.’  He would hold out his arm as we placed the next requested piece in his hand.  An hour or so later... Waa Laa... we had our tree.  There was no aroma, other than the dust from the box... There was no pine needles to clean up, just a few shattered Christmas balls and some malfunctioning Christmas lights.  Seeing a real tree bewildered us.  Don’t ask me why... it just did.  We stood there in amazement, taking it all in.  Lisa pondered her mental images, “It doesn’t look like a real tree?”  As though her young mind had comparisons to go on.  I tried to shush her, and reassure her that it was real.  She reached out and touched a limb.   “Wow.”  Indeed it was real, we thought our new neighbors were loaded.  How could they get a new live tree every year?  The moment passed, and we ran up the stairs to continue playing.
Now every year at Christmas time, as I open ‘the box’ (Frank is allergic to pine...) and instruct my own children to separate and categorize the ‘branches,’ I think of that moment.  It’s one of my many portholes connecting me to my memories.  
Actually, I must admit, it began before the boxed tree.  When I grew up and had a family - and my own home - my choice of tree was real... a la Mastrogiacomo.   It was then, that I experienced the full plethora of this ritual... the crisp snowy air, the fire burning in a nearby 55 gallon drum, the large round white light bulbs strung from post to post glowing over our heads, the variety of aromatic trees to choose from... Frank and I with our kids in tow, would walk between the pyramids, on dirt path isles, searching for our perfect tree...  and I thought of my neighbors... 
It wasn’t until Frank insisted I was trying to purposely torture him... this as he sniffled, scratched and was near blinded from rubbing his itchy eyes raw.  (Seriously, people... this allergy stuff is for the birds.  On top of pine, he is allergic to chocolate, nuts, and coconut.  Should he ever really piss me off, it’s been suggested that I could stuff an Almond Joy in his mouth and beat him with a pine branch... but no worries.  Frank is safe....... for now... ;)  The shedding pine needles and family cat  ~ who was thrilled to have her very own tree to climb,  and knock down ~ helped the decision along.  Artificial tree it is.  
I am always amazed by what I call, ‘memory portholes.’  We all have them... you know, the little things that remind us  and send us back in time to a day, a moment, a person... Naomi and I spoke about Butterflies... this the 'porthole,' or believed to be medium, in which Gina visits her loved ones.  I could relate, as I believe my father visits us through birds... (I admit, I am crazy.  Certifiable.)  
When Naomi and I reconnected, I sent her a few stories I had written about the kids.  To my delight, she requested more... I sent her a link to a web-site where I have a gallery of photos and stories.   (  As well, I sent her the web-site I set up for my Dad, where she actually posted to the Guestbook.  (  I chuckled as she chided the ‘ugly chain link fence’ that separated our yards...  I didn’t have the heart to tell her, I still have that rickety old fence.  (said in a sheepish tone...;)  The forsythias and honey suckle grow rampant on it every year.  It proves to be my makeshift trellis.  Aside from that, removing it would prove to be a nightmare... following in the footsteps of that old domino effect adage... That old fence is intertwined through the big tree (the one that was a mere twig when we were kids...) it’s holding up the back wall of my rock garden, and on top of it all - replacing it would be a small fortune... one I would have to take on for the sake of my lovely dog, Toots.
Naomi emailed me again at about 3 am... and then called the next day.  She went on about my stories and that she had not been able to stop reading.  This was music to my ears, as I’m a want-to-be writer.  Having someone read, and actually enjoy, my ‘stuff’ completes the process.  Having no time to catch-up on everything... this was also an awesome way to fill in the gaps.
Today it seems only fitting that I sit here and write something for Naomi.  I wish she was here to read it.  I think she might like to know that it is she that inspired me to hit the keyboard once again...................  Sadly, she died March 6th. 
Two of my childhood, neighborhood family members are gone.  So too, is my Dad.  I don’t want to believe any of it.  How can this be?!  
Life passes us by... and then it just passes?!  I am bewildered.  
Many years ago, before my husband and I were even an item, he pointed out that -
“The greatest gift any of us have to offer is that of time.”  
How true!!  
Time to spend, time to share, time to create memories that live on... Every passing moment is a turned page...  and if I can have anything to do with it, there will be a lot of literal pages to live on beyond my own existence.  
I pay tribute to Naomi, and to all the loved ones lost to the great heavenly abyss.  I feel your presence.  I know you are there.  I will continue, until I can no longer.  Thank You for your precious time, that you share so beautifully... for the memories you helped create.  
You will not be forgotten!
Naomi Mastrogiacomo Barone ~ 10/18/1960 - 03/06/2012