Thursday, December 31, 2009

Full Long Night (Blue) Moon

It's a cold, rainy New Year's Eve, and the full moon has taken cover behind the night clouds. We can take that one of two ways:

1) Ominous signpost (eek!), as in: there's something about a blue moon not showing her face on New Year's Eve that doesn't bode well for the coming year, or

2) Crossroads signpost (eek!), as in: the second full moon in the Long Night December has withdrawn to give us a little moment to get our (collective?) acts together, and decide which way our (individual?) futures run.

Four paths converging. Which way to go?

Head north into the night, and ride it out alone in the cold comfort of some dark mixture of fear-ignorance-loathed-to-try?

Head south to the Party with the bright lights, the Hail Fellow Well Mets!, and the company of the inebriated, where tomorrow's hair of the dog competes with the sting of regret?

Head east to the measured consumption of wine and cheese, networking, home by 12:30 - "Love to stay, but the babysitter, you know..."?

Or, head west on a crooked path that meanders into God-knows-where - "but, hey is that a blue moonbeam sneaking out to shine down yonder? No? No, really, I think it is!"?

So many choices, and here we have a brief (some might say manufactured for the holidays) respite in which to pause and reflect, to decide what version of ourselves will ride the year. Is it Reluctant You, Risky You, Responsible You, or Courageous You? Is it Confident You, Clever You, Dark You, or Shining You? When we cross each other on the path of 2010, who will we meet?

Whoever it may be, I hope that we will love and help one another. I hope we see the best in each other's eyes, peeking out like an errant blue moonbeam in the last moment of the year.

The happiest of New Years to you and yours.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post-Christmas Fog

Dear me.

The snows came and went.
The rains came and went.
The presents have been bought, wrapped, delivered and unwrapped. Some may even have been returned and exchanged for other booty by now.

And, here in Pennsylvania, the fog has rolled in. It's that post-Christmas fog that usually descends on us as a result of too much food and wine, too much song and gifting. Tonight that expected mental fog has actually manifest as real, water-suspended-in-air fog.

Perhaps all that running from store to store, all those online shopping bits and bytes, all that toasting and roasting, all those Joy-filled carols, all those Warmest Wishes for a Happy Eid, Happy Divali, Blessed Solstice, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa actually raised the temperature here in Pennsylvania, giving the post-holiday fog a physical form.

There's something fitting in that, because fog quiets things, tones it down, slows us down like a soft, cool blanket. Despite what you hear, you can actually think within a blanket of fog seeded with sedatives. Less input to distract and all.

So before the fog lifts to let in the New Year with its celebrations and resolutions and raised expectations, take a moment to relax.

And, Warmest Wishes for a Blessed Fog.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

Moon over Malvern
Christmas Eve 2009

May your heart be filled with love and light.
May those you love be close at hand, and if not at hand, then in heart.
May this season of light carry through to the next.
May you get the chance to give and receive, to help and be helped, to love and be loved, for it is when both sides of the equation are realized that we are truly blessed.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Rivers Family 1967
(I'm the one in the cat's eyeglasses)


We take it for granted,don't we? Those people we have grown up with. Those people we have joined with. Those people to whom we claim allegiance for all the right (and wrong) reasons.

Unless we don't have it. Or, at least the piece of it we most desire.

Then, we rail at the heavens, demanding justice, demanding love, demanding understanding, demanding some explanation for why the vision of family that somehow nestled in our heads and hearts is not the family we experience in real life.

When we are content with our families, it's all OK, all warm expectation of that existence we happily take for granted. Arguments and angst? Meaningless in the long rolling skein of time. When we are not content, we withdrawal into our own, or join another tribe, or want without fulfillment. We are disconnected. We are tribal animals that either embrace the pack, or become some distorted, pack-less, falsely contented rendition of ourselves. Or who we (think we) were "meant" to be.

Then come the holidays with their ability to illuminate and emphasize. And, they are never more powerful than when they are the winter holidays. Those chilly, golden times that begin with Thanksgiving and conclude with Happy New Year! Those times when we return to the nest, or write, or at least call to say, "As the year winds down, I remember you. I remember us. I remember what it means to be a part of something greater. And I want/need/have to say: 'I love you."

I love you.

Is that not the best of all the things that could be the expected?

I love you.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Second Snow

2nd Snow of 2009, Malvern, PA
December 19, 2009

Eeesh! Best laid plans and all that.

I planned to take my Dad shopping, but the snow fell and fell and fell, so I watched it fall instead. I would like to say that the snow turned out to be an ill-timed but welcome respite from the rush-gush-rush of the Christmas season, but the truth is that I have not felt all that rushed. Other concerns have crowded in: work, finals, economic concerns, artistic exercises, political snits, blah, blah, blah ... Christmas is creeping up on the radar in that slow, steady way that big events travel. You know: far away, far away, far off, still a-ways, RIGHT THERE (!) in all its panic-inducing glory.

For now, I will just watch the snow fall; let the random, inescapable carol float in; admire the lights and decorations of the committed; and anticipate that moment when Christmas seeps in to fill my heart with golden light.

It always does, and it's always right on time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ow - My Head ...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Can someone call me a doctor? No, really. I have insurance.
(Turn off the music at the bottom of the page. Unless you prefer the distraction.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Moon-y

Well, thank GOD it's a new moon, because I am in dire need of a new cycle.

For some reason, I feel a little divorced from the Happy/Merry season. I see the lights. I see the trees. My breath floats in my face in the night. I am assaulted by the music at every turn. I have eaten too many cookies, and have sipped my share of wine (and eggnog). I have even bought a few Christmas gifts.

So why am I unseasonably unseasonable?

Maybe it's this long-running health care fiasco. People taking up sides on account of politics, not even bothering to make a coherent case anymore. People voting for hysteria with their mouths, and for the status quo, because status quo does not require vision. People standing on the side of those who put profit over lives, while other stand on the side of ... what? Compromise? Bi-partisanship? A bid for ANY bill over NO bill? All the while, sifting the dust in their empty pockets for a bit of self-respect. People demanding without heart, and waxing passionate without muscle. I do not think there is a health care plan that covers those ills.

Ah me.

Then there are the soldiers, sailors and marines deploying before Christmas. Yes, deploying anytime is not a cause to celebrate, even in those fabled "times of necessity," but before an emotional holiday like Christmas, and with so much resistance to the war? Well, it just feels like those sugarplums are still backstage looking for their dancing shoes.

Ah me.

Then there is this Christmas 2009 shopping vibe. Do we guard our wallets until we are SURE we have navigated the economic shoals? Do we shop till we drop in support of the Good Ol' American Economy? Do we take this opportunity to shift from gain to love, from Wii! to joy, from the glitz of Christmas lights to the Silent Light of the winter sky?

I don't know, so I will just say, "Ah me."

Thank GOD for the new moon and a new time to turn toward joy (to the world).

Monday, December 14, 2009


What to do when you are up to your ass in commode content, and you haven't a clue how to dig yourself out?

At some point, the crap rises so high, that your survival hinges on being really clear on:

a) Which way is out.
b) Why we want to get out.
c) What we plan to do when we get there.

At this point, I am convinced that we haven't a clue about any of it.

Ass? Elbow?

This healthcare thing? Surely we couldn't be more incompetent if we sat down with a cabal of stooges and created a three- year plan for launching a crack house.

Perhaps I am being simple-minded. OK - I'll own simple-minded. Sue me. Slay me. Prop me up in an endless line of patients awaiting a life decision from their health insurance companies. Better yet, poke me in the eye with a ballpoint pen covered in hot sauce.


Surely, there is some sense in re-engineering a system of hospitals, clinics, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies that relinquish their lauded pledge to heal in favor of shareholder profits.

Surely, the high road runs toward "insuring" that the "richest country on the planet" is the place where the world's "best medical structure" takes care of everyone.

Surely, those other countries that provide universal healthcare have the right of some part of it.

Surely, the duly elected Representatives and Senators, the men and women of the people, are for the sick and the lame, the indigent and the desperate, the child in pain, the man injured at work, and the woman supporting her family while waiting for the results of her biopsy. And, not nestled in the pockets of the Connecticut- based insurance companies, as Joe Lieberman is.

Surely our President and all his peeps are willing enough and strong enough to shrug off the lobbyists, the political dogma, the commentators, both Houses of Congress, and party pressure to delivered what they promised us.

Surely, there are those among us who recall the good goal. Yeah, the one that promised no one would be denied healthcare. Period. The one that is slipping away under the momentum of people who only have to say, "No." to win the argument. Those that only have to turn away, to make any - any - argument against, and hold their breath until they turn blue, to foil the purportedly good intentions of a dream team.

Am I simple-minded? Pollyanna-fied? Pathetically enamored with the dream?

Because, there are folks out there who make very effective hay out of partisanship. To them, the other party is the enemy, and the defeat of the enemy is the most important thing - always. And, they reject the need to listen to any other source of reason than that which comes from the lips of their own tribesmen.

See, our tribes now elevate incestuous resolve over reason, and we are no longer capable of fighting tribal doctrine. We can only nod and smile. Or nod and shout. Or mutter, shake our heads, and seek sedation in whatever form is available.

Meanwhile, our dreams slip away; we become disappointed, jaded and de-fanged. We rail against the "fat cats"; we snarl at the opposition; we blame everyone but ourselves; and we sink into the inebriated dream.

We are so easily disenfranchised, because we are too hungover to demand the reality we dreamt of, in the long ago.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First Snow and Waning Moon

First Snow in Malvern

Yesterday, the first snow of the season hit the Philadelphia area. This morning, it lies heavy on the evergreens and coats the branches of the maples as if something thought to create art. Something new. Meanwhile, the moon has passed through its magical, mad phase of fullness, and is on the wane. One thing begins, another ends, and both do so with regularity. Of course, these are only two of the wheels constantly turning in the universe. The seasons, the phases of the moon, the days and nights, the years, the galaxies, the lives – all turning, all travelling cycle after cycle.

People are like that. Going through phases, choices, passages of life, over and over and on to the next. There’s this theory or philosophy or religious dogma (pick your descriptor) that defines life as a never-ending series of wheels. We jump to, hang on, and cycle through. If, at the end of the turn, we have learned the featured lesson, we jump to the next wheel. If, however, we fail, we must remain for the next turn. It’s a string of over and over agains until we master the lesson. We must learn to progress to the next lesson, the next program, the next life. And it does us no good to abandon the wheel; it will simply keep turning¸ and, one day we will jump unawares and find ourselves on that old wheel again. Only the lesson will have become bigger, longer, uglier, hairier. And, perhaps without the nice parts – like good relationships or pleasant scents or distracting music – once available to make the process more palatable.

So, the world turns, the galaxies rotate, and our lives come full circle with an alarming frequency. Observing this doesn’t seem to matter. We repeat the same bad choices. We ignore the signs that would help us to master the lessons and warn us against the same old pitfalls. We forget all that occurred in the last cycle as if we had more important things to remember. And, we complain that the wheel does not turn fast enough, as if we weren’t the ones always trying to shift into reverse or drag our heels when the ground passed by.

When we do succeed and move on, we are not quite sure how we did it. Or how to replicate the results. Or how to help our loved ones negotiate the same turns. All we know for sure is that the seasons, the world, and we keep turning as regularly as the rising sun. And, perhaps we should view such turnings as not a second chance to fail, but a reasonably long chain of opportunities to become our better selves.