Friday, October 31, 2008

No Halloween Here

We're turning off the lights tonight. No costumes, no candy to hand out. No volunteering this year at the church the neighborhood kids take their candy to for inspection. No pumpkins on the porch. Nothing. Why? Is it because we're just sick and tired of years of Halloweening? Is it because the holiday has become overly commercialized? Or that we wonder what value there is in teaching children to beg for candy? Or have we just become two old, self-centered grouches?


Today is our friend's birthday. She shouldn't have to share HER day with anyone or anything else. Yes, Denise is just that special.

Happy Birthday, Denise.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Returning to the Scene of the "Crime"

Mary Ellen and I had tea and bagels at Sugar Pearl this morning.......and were DELIGHTED to see that the owner had torn the dedication page out of our book of poems, "Taking Heart", and hung it on their wall. We dedicated the book to the staff at Sugar Pearl who took such good care of Mary Ellen and me as we put the book together there on the pool table in the back room.

We felt honored. The owner escorted us to "our" table, brought us fancy silverware and huge cups of tea, even went to the store to get cream cheese for our bagels as they had run out. It was a moment of feeling as if we were royalty.

And what's amazing is......we sat there and talked about marketing our book a bit and then we both at the same time stood up and said, "I have to go home and write now!"

So.....later. The words are seeping out and in need of a home other than here. At least for today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Instant Gratification

My favorite saying, stolen from Carrie Fisher, used to be "Instant gratification takes too long."

Older and wiser now, I still feel that way sometimes, though I've learned to sit back and accept that everything happens for some reason or other. Time usually does take care of almost everything.

My favorite cousin is going through a tough time. The weekend following her mom's funeral she left her husband. She wanted to be happy. I'd cautioned her about making any kind of major decision at this time but she felt it was long overdue, and I resigned myself to being there if she needed me and letting her follow the path she's chosen.

I've seen the same thing happen repeatedly as I've dealt with friends and employees over the years: our mothers die and we're off doing something new in order to be "happy". It often doesn't turn out as we imagined it might.

When did we stop giving ourselves permission to simply take time to grieve? Must we always keep our chins up and still amble through our days as if nothing has changed in our lives? Is that truly what our loved ones would have wished us to do?

I think that when I die I want all my friends to take to their beds for a day or two and read trashy romance novels in between crying bouts and trips to the frig for chocolate chip ice cream.
And then get on with their lives...realizing that the gratification of living a happy life comes slowly and rarely following rash decisions. There are times when we are supposed to be know, that old thing about there being no rainbows without the storms?

My wish for my cousin today is that she enjoy the moment for what it brings, even if it's a flow of memories that bring her sorrow or pain. It's all part of the plan. She can be as happy as she allows herself to be -- no one else can or should make her happy -- but perhaps she needs to take some time to grieve, to feel sorry for herself, to mourn all that was and will no longer be.
I know she'll feel better afterwards.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rain and Ruperts

"When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads."

I was humming that song while coaxing Rupert out into the monsoon around 7:00 a.m. He wanted no part of it, quickly lifting his leg on the bamboo that grows rampant in the back yard and tugging to go back home. He's still beneath the covers. I've been keeping him company.

I've been reading Andy Warhol's diary now for weeks. I'm up to page 467 and there's still tons more. I've renewed at the library twice now so I can finish it. There's a line from one of Mary Ellen's poems that best describes my reading this book: I was taken in. This book has been with me so long now I can "hear" Andy's whine as I read it and I feel as if I know all the people he does. It's a fascinating look into a creative mind.

And what have I liked best? Andy has a trusted, loyal assistant....and his name is Rupert.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dear Denise,

Just when I was wondering if there was light at the end of the current tunnel, there you were, at my door: your healing hugs, your dazzling smile, you.

What a delightful couple of days it has been, catching up and talking, talking, talking. And being able to spend time with your girls, too! Suddenly they are young ladies, so beautiful, inside and out. Both Chris and I enjoyed their company.

You should know that Rupert is in the midst of a major pout on the Barcalounger. He's burrowed beneath the quilt you used, and anytime I walk by he gives me his "mean" if I made you leave. I know how he feels. It's alittle sad not to have you here still.

Thanks for making the trip up. I'm just realizing this moment how terribly I needed a slice of you. Thank Michael for me, too. I know there's an expense involved and he probably doesn't like not having you around, and I appreciate his understanding. We sure missed him!

Here's hoping your trip back south.....where you won't need those boots you had to buy up uneventful and brings you home to sunshine. I miss you already.

Love, Robin

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Yesterday my husband said to me, "If you get bored today, you can stain this piece of wood for me."

Bored? What's that feel like? I have to admit to never feeling that way in my entire life, with the exception of an occasional staff meeting in the past. This may have something to do with the fact that my family never allowed us to say we were bored; such mutterings meant a rake or a broom was placed in your hands or you were given potatoes to peel or told to go wash the car. We taught ourselves to be occupied and busy.

Even though I'm no longer working an outside-of-the-house job, my days are more than full. I never find myself wandering from room to room wondering what will I do next. I'm always knitting something or writing something or cooking something or cleaning something. And then there's dog walking and ball tossing. A new book to read. Music to listen to. And those rare times there is something decent to watch on television, although this is always a last resort for me. Pricing my knit goods for an upcoming craft fair and Internet research on agents takes up a chunk of time, too. Occasionally a friend drops in and solving the problems of the world, or at least neighborhood problems such as what contrast paint Joan should use on the Victorian next door that's being painted now....well, I just don't have time to be bored. And, no, I didn't get to stain that piece of wood. I didn't have time.

Actually, I think I might like to feel bored, just once.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yes, Spelling Counts....

Yesterday's post title, of course, should have been "The Poetry Reading".....left out a letter there.

What's my excuse? I'm getting used to new glasses. It was such an emotional day, I wasn't thinking clearly. I don't know how to spell "reading". I was in a hurry. Spell Check missed it. I was too tired to think. I'm learning Swahili as a second language and was confused. Rupert was typing for me.


I'm only human.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Poetry Readng

Here's a photo of me reading....I'm in purple on the left. And the next photo shows what it looked like in front of me...

Mary Ellen and I were honored to have 38 people attend our reading. It's a small bookstore, as you may be able to tell from the photo. Several folks are sitting on the floor. We filled the place!
Our audience laughed in the right places, listened intently, and even bought our book!
The reception afterwards at my apartment was a blast! And then my brother, sister-in-law and a childhood friend treated Chris and me to dinner. (Since it would have been my dad's 77th birthday that day, we chose to go to his favorite kind of restaurant....Stella's Diner. We were too full from the reception to really eat, but we had such fun chatting.)'s over.....and the magic of the day still lingers. I am content today. I feel like a real poet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Taking Heart"

That's the title of the book of poetry that Mary Ellen and I have published. We'll be reading from it this afternoon at Lavender Inkwell, our neighborhood bookstore. And then there's that blasted party at my apartment afterwards.....

We have absolutely no idea how many people will come. Many have said they planned to, so we've cooked a ton of hors d'oeuvres, bought two cases of wine, and I've set up folding chairs here and there. My apartment is clean. We know what poems we are going to read and we've even practiced somewhat.

Mary Ellen and I went to the bookstore yesterday to look over the space. Good thing we did because they were going to put us in a back room that could hold maybe ten people.....they thought we'd do the reading in two parts: my friends listening to me, her friends listening to her. We have some of the same just wouldn't work for us. So we're making them rearrange some furniture...a fair exchange for the advertising they promised us that didn't get done. And I decided to read my poem "Two Straight Chicks" after all.

I'm reminding myself today of the pure joy of arriving at this point of my life. I'm going to have fun and read my heart out even if there's only one person in the room.

Here's the "Two Straight Chicks" poem I wrote in response to several people wondering why we would choose a bookstore slanted toward gay/lesbian readers.....

Two Straight Chicks

Mostly we stand tall
balancing books on our heads
full of ideas we coax into poetry.

Curves in all the right places,
we crave the company of women,
love the men who pepper our lives.

Our partnered neighborhood welcomes us,
harbors us in friendship and diversity
we wish others could share.

Oh, no, we are not gay.
Only sometimes, often when we least expect it,
we’ll find ourselves happy.

.....this poem is not in "Taking Heart".....which you can find at if you're interested in checking out some of our other poems or even buy yourself a copy!

I'll let you know how it goes....(and, yes, Denise....I will feel you standing by me.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Morning Walk

As I've not been well lately, Christopher has taken Rupert on his morning walk alone while I tried to get more sleep. I've missed these early morning walks.

This morning I crept out of bed and let Chris sleep; he's taken today off to help me prepare for the party but he's getting a bit of a head cold. Rupert is most happy when we all walk together, but this morning he seemed happy to have me to himself.....maybe he thought we'd be going into the woods or something.

Rupert walks well unless there is a dog he doesn't like or a person who's yelling or acting weird. No issues this morning; he even walked past a cat who hides in the bushes and sometimes jumps out at us.

There's a young boy who waits for the bus at the five corners. Last year he was a little scared of Rupert. We worked on becoming friends. Nassier (that's probably not he spells it) is quiet and just cute as a button. He is in the third grand, likes spelling and hates his sister. A very normal kid. I love it that when I say "good morning", he says it back and then tells me something else that he's been doing: "I got a B on my book report." or "My sister hid my shoes from me." or "We're having pizza for lunch today." And he tells other people they're "stupid" to be afraid of dogs.

This morning Nassier was at the five corners, his backpack by his side, patiently waiting for his bus. At the crosswalk I made Rupert sit; Nassier waved to us from across the street and Rupert's butt began a twitching. Nassier takes a later bus this year and we haven't seen as much of him.

We crossed the street and Rupert calmly walked over to Nassier and sat right beside him as if I'd told him to do so. Nassier, still looking for his school bus, reached his hand down to scratch Rupert's head. For at least a minute, they stayed like that. For some reason it made me tear up a bit. And then the bus appeared. "OK, Rupert," Nassier said, "Have a nice day."

It was one of those rare Norman Rockwell moments, and a fine way to begin what will be a busy day for me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


The poetry reading at Lavender Inkwell is in three days. I've cleaned the apartment and set up tables for the wine and food we'll be serving. What a menu: my homemade little meatballs, ME's hot crab dip made with crab she brought back from a recent trip to Maine, luscious dessert treats ME's sister is making, deviled eggs, fruit with chocolate sauce, crustinis with fresh tomato relish.....the list goes.

This afternoon Jeffrey is coming to coach me on the delivery of a couple of my poems...ones that are most important for me to read "right". In addition to his writing, Jeffrey is an actor. I'm hoping to learn a lot from him that can only help me on Saturday. I'm hoping Mary Ellen drops in....she's just starting to get nervous. I've been nervous for so long now that it's just like wearing a necklace that I never take off.

I have to make a chunk of ice to float in the punch bowl, wash the wine glasses, vacuum another time, and then hunt down bones that Rupert has scattered all over the place. I picked up at least seven two days ago.....this morning more have appeared from whatever hiding place he's found for them. It's as if he's trying to let me know he's still in control. As if there was ever any doubt.

I'm not worried about people coming....I'm almost afraid we'll have too many folks. I'm not worried about having things ready because most everything already awaits. The more I read the poems I've selected, the better I like them. I even have a vague idea of what I'm going to least I know I'm putting on my green, high-top sneakers. I hope we run out of books...we have 42 left to sell. I already have orders for 16. The bookstore folks did get a notice into the Syracuse New Times about the reading, but not The Post Standard. And the neighborhood is a buzz.....although one person we know and begrudgingly invited....known as Dimwit in previous posts....can't wait to come....only because she knows it's the only way she will get to see the inside of our apartment. Dimwit could care less about supporting us as writers from the writing group she was once a part of or as neighbors....she's just nosy. My brother is coming with his wife AND his girlfriend. Some other friends I haven't seen all summer have said they're coming. Even my hairdresser is coming....and bringing a friend or two!

My hair is cut....almost all one length again. Maria "corrected" what I'd done to my bangs without scolding me. And my new glasses -- silver, almost circular hippie frames -- are wonderful. I'll really be able to see what I'm reading!

I'm not nervous any more. I'm actually getting excited.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Politics and a Movie

We almost always begin our writing group meetings with talk about politics. Often it's related to neighborhood issues, gay rights and what those blasted Republicans have done now.

I find solace being in a room full of people who think as I do. I can't understand why anyone in their right mind would support McCain. It's even more difficult for me to comprehend why this country has not impeached Bush/Cheney.....oh, but then I doubt that anyone has ever lusted after either one of them or given them a blow job in the White House.

There's a delightfully understated movie that is my new favorite movie: The Visitor. It made me sob, it made me angry, it made me wonder what politicians are thinking. Richard Jenkins made me remember my father and the seemingly calm manner in which he handled matters. Please watch it.

I am not from exotic stock. My grandfathers were both born in Great Britain, coming to America to begin new lives a few years before the stock market first crashed in 1929. Still, I am a second generation American, my family coming here for a better life. Isn't that the principal that our founding fathers and mothers held dear? What's happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Please vote. Consider NOT voting for McCain. And rent "The Visitor". I dare you not to be outraged.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Calvary.

Yesterday I imagined screaming "the Calvary is coming" from whatever rooftop I could get up on. Mistakenly I thought Denise was coming to visit today and stay long enough to help me get through the poetry reading and the after party. I am positive my burning desire to have her here made me read that into her e-mail. Alas, it's not going to happen....but I am so looking forward to spending some time with her next week. When it's all over.

And then this morning, help came from an unexpected source: two men in my writing group. I trust these men completely, honor their opinions and always take their comments to heart. Concerned about my opening poem the most -- I know I'll be fine once I get started, it's just that getting started part, you know -- they listened and were kind and supportive. One of them is coming back to my place on Thursday to "coach" me and promised to listen to me read as long as it takes for me to feel comfortable.

And my angst seemed to float away. I read a couple of the poems into my tape recorder after everyone left and actually LIKED what I heard today. I'm not dreading the party as much either...even though I haven't done my part of the shopping yet. It will all come together.

One of the guys said, "I'll dress in drag and read all your poems for you,". Another said, "Listen to that Indigo Girls song again that you like so much." I just did. "Watershed." The lyric that scorched me: you agonize until your agony's your heaviest load.

So I let it go. So, thanks to all my pals for getting me to this point.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Angst: Part 1

Mary Ellen will be back in town briefly tomorrow and we'll be meeting to go over the menu for the reception following our reading on October 18th. Because we both live in woods opposite directions from Syracuse for the summer, we haven't seen much of each other. We've managed a couple of quick face-to-face meetings -- opening the box of our books that arrived, going to the bookstore to settle on a date for the reading, etc. -- but no time to just sit and think it all out together. We've been e-mailing....but she can't hear the panic in my typed words.

I'm not agonizing over the reading itself.....I'm looking forward to that part. I actually LIKE these poems. We lived with them for so long while we were putting the book together, I had feared we'd end up hating them, but that hasn't happened. It was fairly easy for me to select the ones I wanted to read (even after my brother said he was coming and asked if I'd be reading anything that might embarrass him). Of course, I transferred the poems selected onto individual pages in the largest font I could of those necessary tasks when your age reaches a speed limit.

It's the party at my place that's keeping me up at night. As you know, we moved across the street in July. Some of the folks who say they'll be at the reading haven't seen the place was one of those "kill two birds with one stone" decisions of mine to have the party here and not in the Green Street Community Garden. Well that and the fact that I have a bathroom.

Will Rupert the Wonder Dog -- still adjusting to being back among city noises -- behave? Will my mother-in-law teeter about wiping away cobwebs I haven't noticed and complaining that I didn't put out enough food or too much food? Do I have enough chairs? Do I need to make coffee? (never made a pot of coffee in my life...) Do I have enough wine glasses? Will people leave after a short period of time so I may have the meltdown I know is coming in privacy?

And of course, the huge fear: what if nobody comes?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Link I Forgot to Add to Previous Post...

Have to get used to this new blog spot and when I can edit.....

Anyway, here's a link I wanted to share regarding Dana Cooke...
If you want to know why I am sending you there, scroll down and read previous entry. Listen to his songs....I think you'll like them. I loved his "When I Don't Think".

Songwriters at Sparkytown

Sparkytown is the restaurant where we go for lunch after our writers group meetings. A short walk from our apartment, Sparky's place is a slice of Greenwich Village. Her sign says: the funky place to meet. That tells you almost everything, except how great the food is! Sparky is a gracious host, welcoming everyone with a smile and special touches. She makes a lucious apple crisp!

When asking Sparky's permission to hang up a poster about our upcoming poetry reading, I noticed a poster about a songwriters group that meets there on the first Tuesday of each month. After being told I could attend without having to contribute a song (since I can't carry a tune and play no instruments), I told Chris about it. We expected it to be similar to an event we attended at another local favorite place, The Red House, where songwriters sat around and talked with the audience about inspirations for their music.

The group at Sparky's was so much more. A dozen musicians playing various sized acoustic guitars...including something called a "strum stick" that we'd never seen before and I'd be willing to bet Chris is pricing on EBay today......various ages and skill levels, but all totally passionate about their songs. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the informal leader of the group, Dana Cooke, is someone we've heard before; we own two of his CDs.

Each musician did a short introduction of the song they played. We were handed lyrics but told not to read them until after the singer had played the song (Dana actually "yelled" at me for looking at it before it was time....). Then they sat back for the critique.

And, was intense. Some of it was over my head: chord progressions and where the bridge worked best, etc. I was able to add comments related to lyrics, though. I had to swallow some guilt about doing so....since I had nothing of mine for them to judge.....but I convinced myself that, as an audience, my comments should be valid to them.

The energy of the evening mirrored that of our writing group: nervousness before it's your turn to share, the cold terror of that moment when no one says anything, the lively exchange of good suggestions, arguments and agreements. Add all the music composition stuff on top of critiquing meanings of was intense, that's the only word that adequately describes it. Again, in such a passionate way. Lots of laughter, too.

I was so impressed that they could do this....with us as spectators; they invited us back again, though. The dynamics of my writing group would shift dramatically if we had spectators....but readers are an audience, too. Maybe next month I'll invite the songwriters to drop in on one of our meetings.

My thoughts today are some you've heard before: follow your passions and surround yourself with others who follow theirs. I tossed and turned most of the night, wanting to get up and write a dozen poems; that's how the group inspired me. We have the same fears and challenges. I found myself nodding when someone said, "I get hung up on one word....finding the exact word I want...." They were great. I learned a ton. And I was thinking, athletes cross train....why shouldn't artists?

If you're one of my neighbors reading this.....drop by Sparky's and listen and learn. You won't be disappointed (even the songs that weren't as good as others were still good). Next session is Election Day....6:30 pm until whenever. We all agreed to still meet, save us the aggravation of watching early returns..........

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Employee of the Month?

This is one of my Barbie heads....I use it to display my knitted items at the annual craft fair, Plowshares, sponsored by the Syracuse Peace Council every first weekend in December. She's wearing a lovely beret and neck warmer, hand knit by yours truly.

Four of these doll heads -- two Barbies and two Bratz -- sit on the bookcase directly behind my desk. My office is set up in true Gemini fashion: half for writing, half for knitting. When I am writing, these four heads are directly behind me.

OK, I have to admit it.....I find myself talking to them during the day. I haven't actually named them yet. And, no, Denise....they've yet to talk back. I'll let you know when that day comes.

Yesterday I was showing someone I used to work with around the apartment. I pointed to the heads and said, "These lovely ladies are my new staff." She laughed, but I was almost serious. They are the perfect employees: never show up late, leave early or call in sick; never talk back or rebel at any hair brained idea I have; always smile at me; never ask for a raise or feel the need to discuss at length a personal problem I'd rather not even hear.

Seems as if there might be a TV sitcom in the making.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

How Did We Do That?

Somehow hubby and I managed to get both campers closed up all by ourselves, including hooking up the air compressor to blow any water out of the pipes before adding anti-freeze, making sure everything is tucked away for the winter, and securing two gigantic blue tarps over each camper.

Yep, we did it all alone.......two short, fat, nearing 60 old hippies who were also just slightly hung over from being out the night before and already exhausted from staying up past our bedtime. We almost put it off for another week.....but we're ruled by the weather this time of year and needed to get these chores done before it was too cold and/or too wet.

We work so well together. It took us five hours...but they seemed to fly by and we were able to do everything we needed to do....except I forgot to grab my walking boots. I remembered the bathing suits -- I'm so hoping we can cruise again this winter.

As we were hauling stuff around and climbing up on rooftops, etc., we remembered all the folks who stayed with us over the seemed as though someone was there every weekend. And that as wonderful....we sure aren't complaining about that.....but where's everyone when there's work to be done?

For the first time since we've had this spot, I was glad to walk away and head back to the city. Too much work this year and not enough down time to just walk in the woods or fish or sit in the sun. I'm certain it won't be long though before I'm desperately wishing to be back there.

Anyway, we're home for good now, tucked into the convenience of having most everything we need within walking distance. And it's pouring rain today, so I'm just going to hunker down and do some laundry. If my aching muscles will let me lift the laundry basket.....I can't believe we did all that work ourselves. But we did! What a team we are, hubby and I!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Fresh Start.....

When AOL announced they were closing down the journals....where this blog was previously located....I thought I'd stop doing it. I began it as a way to keep in touch with friends (and that worked) and perhaps make some new friends (a couple people read it). It also became a "duty"....I'd always be thinking of what I could post next. I thought I would rid myself of that....and then I was haunted because I wasn't saying anything. Jeesh. Make up my mind.

I wanted to call a new blog "Intarsia"...but the name had been taken. What's that mean? It is a noun meaning a mosaic usually made of wood fitted into a support, the art or process of making such a mosaic, and a colored design knitted on both sides of a fabric, as in a sweater.

Aren't we all mosaics....hopefully with support and colorful designs to our lives?

I am a writer who also knits; a wife, mother and step-mother; grandmother and daughter-in-law; a member of the Green Street Writers Group; a former Human Resources Director; a lover of dogs, nature and music; a sister, a friend and a favorite cousin; a gardener and a pretty decent cook. Not necessarily in that order. Oh, yeah, and I have a seizure disorder and some tiny tumors in my brain that often create chaos in my life.

What will I write about here? All of the above and I did in my AOL journal. If you read me there, thanks for reading again. If you're new, welcome. Sip a cup of tea with me as I share with you my angst about an upcoming poetry reading I'll be doing at our neighborhood bookstore, what's happening in the writers group, how much I miss my friend Denise, the latest trick we've taught Rupert the Wonder Dog, where hubby and I are vacationiing, and an occasional picture of my latest knitted creation.