Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Teaspoon Tuesday -Dream House

In my dreams, I live in a house by the sea, high atop a grassy hill with the water spread below me like an endless blanket of blue. I awake to the sun sparkles of a million diamonds, dancing across the waves, and settle into my favorite chair at the end of the day just as the brilliant orange orb sinks into a rosy glow over the horizon.

As you can tell, it isn't so much about the house for me, as the place where the house is. Of course, I'd like to have a nice home, but it doesn't need to be a huge mansion. A house with lots of windows so the water is beside me at every turn. A room big enough to hold my baby grand piano, with built in book shelves from floor to ceiling all round, and a couple of big overstuffed chairs. A bedroom with doors that open wide, so the rhythmic lapping of waves becomes both lullaby and wake up call. A wraparound deck, with panoramic views of the water at every turn, and lots of big wicker chairs to plop into. It would be a shiny new place, with slick hardwood floors and bright white cabinetry and woodwork. I'd decorate in all shades of blues, from the darkest navy to the palest periwinkle, and accent with red, dark greens, and yellows.
A home full of light, with crisp brightness, yet warm and inviting as well.

Ah, yes, a home by the sea. In my dreams....


Monday, October 30, 2006

One Deep Breath-The Unseen

soft breeze
caresses my cheek
then sighs

spirit's breath
whispering my name
comforts my soul

When I was out walking today ~ which was a true gift of a day, a cloudless blue sky, and air filled with the fragrance of crunchy leaves baking in the warm sun ~ I stopped for a minute in the park and closed my eyes, letting the cool breeze gently wash over my face. I felt a fleeting moment of true peace, as if the wind carried the gentle touch of an unseen spirit, sent to calm my heart and ease my mind.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sunday Scribblings-Bedtime Stories

If you want to get a good night's sleep, the experts say, you should develop a bedtime ritual and stick to it. I've been heeding that advice since I was a very little girl, and the main ingredient in my bedtime ritual has always been stories. When I was very small, someone (usually my mother or grandmother) read the stories to me. Johanna Spry's Heidi, was a particular favorite. When we reached the part where Grandfather and Heidi shared a glass of warm goat's milk and fresh bread, invariably I would become very hungry, necessitating a trip to the kitchen for a glass of milk and some bread and butter of my own. I also clearly remember one of the "Little Golden Books" that had a picture of puppies on the cover, and I could never go to sleep until I had covered the book up with a blanket so the puppies wouldn't get cold.

As soon as I was able to read on my own, I kept books and a flashlight under my pillow, so I could read well into the wee hours of the night - which usually turned out to be all of about 11:00. I'm sure I wasn't fooling my mother at all, who was wise enough to play dumb about my late night reading under the covers. During this time, I remember devouring Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series, Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy and Tacy books, and Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy. I also started surreptitiously reading Jane Eyre and Gone With the Wind at bedtime, because, at age 10, my mother thought I was too young for them. (I think I did fool her about that!)

I still go to bed with books - as a matter of fact, we had a power outage last summer and I took my book to bed, even though I couldn't read it - just holding it helped me fall asleep! Crawling into bed with a good book remedies even the worst of days, and serves as a reward for a day well spent. I've probably never gone to bed without a book in my hand. I'm even pretty sure I took books on my honeymoon, although I can't remember just how much reading I actually did! Books are my security blanket at night, my magic carpet away from the worries and concerns of the day, and my passport into a land of sweet dreams.

my current bedtime reading


Friday, October 27, 2006

How Old Am I Really?

Today's post is inspired by my inner brat. It seems that in spite of my advanced age, there is still a 15 year old girl dwelling in my psyche, capable of righteous indignation and insane jealousy. I just have to talk about this to someone, and - guess what? - you're it.

Here's the backstory, as briefly as I can tell it. I was once a member of a local musical group. There were 13 of us (we were a handbell group, which isn't really important, but partly explains why we were 13), and we traveled and made CD's and did concerts, after which there was much wine drinking and general carousing. It was a huge amount of fun, but also a huge time committment. So, two years ago, I (regretfully) resigned, with many promises to return to and subsitute, fill in, etc., which I have dutifully done on several occasions.

It's impossible not to miss being in a group like that. Oh, I don't miss the endless rehearsals, with 13 women trying to get a word in edgewise about how things should be done, nor the hours of home practice, trying to emulate the action of handbells by using every last one of my kitchen spoons (don't even ask!). What I miss the most is - #1, the interaction between talented women, working together to accomplish a common goal; #2, stretching my musical capabilities; and #3, performing for live audiences and being adored and admired!

Now, also a part of this group was someone whom I would consider my best friend, and my musical mentor. She was in the group far longer than I and she decided to "retire" the same time I did. Over the summer, there was a "temporary" vacancy in the group, created by a member who wanted to take a year off for personal reasons. Well, it seems my friend was asked if she would step in and fill this one year vacancy, and she agreed.

Here's where the inner brat comes in. WHY DIDN'T THEY ASK ME??? They didn't even ask me. And, without ringing my own bell too loudly, so to speak, I know I am a really good handbell player. So now my friend is telling me about all the things she's doing with the group, and how they're preparing for this, that, and the other concert. On the outside, I'm smiling and nodding, and on the inside, I am just fuming.

I don't consider myself to be an overly sensitive or insecure person. Way back when I really was 15, I wasn't type to get in a snit because my friend didn't call me back when she said she would, or invite me to her party. So the jealousy and hurt I'm feeling right now are (thankfully!) quite unfamiliar. At issue is, how do I handle my feelings? The 15 year old says, "fine, if they want to be that way, they can forget about asking me to substitute anymore, and forget about me coming to their dumb old concerts." Of course, the adult part says, "either suck it up and forget about it, or talk to the group director in a mature adult fashion and let her know you're interested in returning if another opportunity arises."

Naturally, I know the right answer. But it's amazing how easily immaturity rears it's ugly head from time to time, even when you're a supposedly "mature adult." In some ways, it's kind of nice to know there's still a little bit of a teenager in there somewhere. I just wish it was the part that weighed 95 pounds and wore a size three!

Thanks for listening...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Everyday Inspiration

The poems I love best are homages to the "everyday" - a sunset, a favorite tree, birds singing, a fulfilling pastime or a special relationship. These things add small touches of pleasure to our lives, so it makes sense to memorialize them with poetry, which should itself be another of life's everyday pleasures.

Every Afternoon

Along about four o'clock
every workday afternoon
I begin to think about my chair.

You know the one -
the soft old green one
just there by the window
with an oven warm spot
baked in the late day sun.

Everday after work
I fold my weary bones into its lap
lean my aching head against its neck
and sigh.

It fits me just right, this chair.
Although it is large enough
for a small boy
to curl up at my side,
snuggle in close to my heart
and hear a story or two ~
these days it's just me.

It could be that one or both
of the dogs might come
and vye for a spot on my lap,
a loyal, forgiving soul
to share this comfort with.

Either way,
I begin to think about it ~
my chair, my book,
maybe one dog or both~
along about four o'clock.


Teaspoon Tuesday - My Life in Magazines

I'm deviating from Deirdre's suggestion just a little bit and borrowing an idea from one of the magazine's I read. Every month they feature a celebrity column titled "My Life in_________", for instance, "My Life in Hairstyles," or My Life in Jewelry," and once it was "My Life in Lipstick" for pete's sake! So, here's a little history of "My Life in Magazines".

  1. Late 60's-Early 70's: An avid reader of Teen Beat and 16, to catch up on all the latest news about the mysterious death of Paul McCartney or cut out pictures of Mickey Dolenz (my favorite Monkee). I also read 17 for fashion tips, although fashion was not a big issue in those days, since I dressed in some version of the school uniform every day - blue plaid skirt, royal blue blazer, and saddle shoes!
  2. Late 70's-Early 80's: As I moved through high school, I lost interest in the celebrity thing, and started reading Madmoiselle and Glamour. Madmoiselle was my favorite, especially after I became a Sylvia Plath groupie and read about her famous internship there;
  3. Late 80's-Early 90's: My domestic goddess days had me reading all the women's mags - Redbook, McCalls, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping. That's right, just me on the couch with the bon bons, magazines, and soap operas (NOT!);
  4. As the century changed, so did my reading tastes. I began to realize that I no longer fit the target demographic for those women's magazines - I had outgrown the young wife and mother role. I gradually let all the subscriptions run out, and for a while, there were no magazines at all in my life. But then, the publishing houses got smart, and realized there were a bunch of women out there heading into midlife with a totally different focus. I came across a copy of More, which focuses entirely on the needs and interests of women over age 40. At first, I resisted classifying myself in the "over-40" group. But before long, cruel reality set in - along with grey hairs, wrinkle, bulges in odd places, and hot flashes - and I was desperate for advice of getting rid of all the above! So, the subscription card went into the mail;
  5. And, in a curious display of symmetry hearkening back to my days of Teen Beat and 16, I allow myself the guilty pleasure of reading People on flights to Florida.

Back in the days when I was reading lots of magazines, I often did as Deidre suggested - I passed them along to my mom, who in turn, passed them along to her neighbors. In the years my grandmother spent in a nursing home, I took great piles of them there, for visitors and staff to enjoy.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One Deep Breath-Mystery

invisible artist
traces crystal patterns
on my window
icy filagree
frosting the lawn~
nature's lace

I'm fascinated by the intricate patterns created by frost and snow, as if a mysterious artist were at work all night, patiently etching these delicate designs on the earth.

for more haiku, go here


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sunday Scribblings-Good

Okay, I admit it - I was a good girl. I was the kind of girl whose mother never had to say, in her most exasperated tone of voice, "Why can't you just be good?" I was always good.

Most of the time, being good came easily. My parents were good people, and we lived in a good neighborhood. I went to moderately good schools, and I had good and true friends who weren't likely to lead me astray. Being good worked for me - as an only child, it served me well to stay on the good side of my parents. They rewarded me with all the good things of life -books, bikes, cool clothes, and plenty of loving attention.

My mother was a good girl too, and she became a good wife. At least, what was considered a good wife in the 1950's. She kept a good home, cooked good food, and raised a good child, while her husband made a good living. She was also an only child, and was "raised right" according to the standards of her small southern town . She suppressed her own dreams and desires, whatever they might have been, in deference to the needs of her husband, her child, and eventually, to the care of her elderly parents.

But then my father displayed his really bad side, and left my mother after 42 years of marriage to run away with his 45 year old secretary (I know, it sounds like a very bad movie). In the early days of her despair, my mother would say in puzzlement, "I always just tried to be a good wife." As despair turned to anger, my mother would tell me "Don't bother being good - it doesn't get you anywhere."

These days, I tend to hover somewhere between those two extremes. Usually, the good girl wins out - I keep showing up at work, taking care of the people and things I'm supposed to take care of, saying "please and thank you" at appropriate times. Being good feels right to me - most of the time. Sometimes, though, I sense that there's an inner girl in there that isn't quite so good. That's the one that loves driving too fast, that goes out with girlfriends and drinks a little too much, that has allowed bad language to creep into her once pristine vocabulary. I know, this stuff is mild according to real bad girl standards, but it's borderline decadence compared to the way I was raised.

As I get older, I find myself getting irritated at the good girl, because sometimes her goodness intereferes with my real desires. Women face this dilemma all the time. We're trained to be pleasers and caretakers, even when that means sacrificing our own needs. But, I've decided to heed my mother's warning and let the "bad" girl out a little more often - the one that thinks about me first, about putting duty and responsibility aside momentarily in favor of some (good) fun. I have a sneaking suspicion that both girls will be a lot happier if I do!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Just Say Yes!

In an effort to pull myself out of the doldrums I've been in lately, I snitched this idea from Michelle (who copied it from Andrea)....Happy Friday, everyone!

yes to eating a classic Sanders hot fudge cream puff in spite of my diet~yes to Magic and Molly taking turns lying in my lap while I'm watching tv~yes to our first concert at school, with lots of great songs about autumn~yes to my new brown belted sweater and flared jeans that actually look pretty good~yes to my haircut, now that all the dreaded layers have at last grown out and so I'm back to my classic bob~yes to Jane Kenyon's Otherwise, the latest addition in my burgeoning poetry library~yes to the Fat Bastard Chardonnay (and yes, that is the name!) chilling in my fridge~ yes to Mario Lopez on Dancing With The Stars (sooooo cute!)~yes to the Detroit Tigers finally making it to the World Series~yes to homemade chicken pot pie for dinner~yes to an amazing performance of Our Town at the high school where I work, with some of my favorite students in leading roles~yes to Gray's Anatomy and ER on Thursday nights, so I get my fix of medical dramas all in one evening~yes to Leave The Pieces, my new favorite song by The Wreckers, a country girl duo~yes to a wonderful network of blogging friends, whose inspiring words always lighten my heart and feed my soul~and yes to a Saturday with nothing planned - a sure sign of being middle aged when Saturday night at home is preferable to Saturday night on the town!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Teaspoon-ful of Soup

Who can eat just a teaspoon-ful of soup? Certainly not me, especially on a cold, rainy day like it was today. I want to fill up on a heaping bowlful of something hot, rich, and satisfying!
Deirdre, one of my favorite blogger buddies, has a neat new site called Teaspoon Tuesday, and every week she offers us a chance to share a little something sweet about life in general. This week, the topic is soup, and I'm looking forward to picking up some new recipes for one of my favorite comfort foods.
Just a while ago, on another cold, rainy, Michigan day (unfortunately, I fear a weather pattern is developing here!) I shared one of my all time favorite soup recipes. Today, I'm offering a brand new one - I haven't made this yet, but I just ate a big bowl of it at the home of one of my best friends (who also happens to be a gourmet cook, lucky for me!) It is rich, creamy, soothing, and delicious. She served it with hot Parkerhouse rolls, a leafy green salad garnished with blue cheese, dried cherries and dressed in a simple vinaigrette. Scrumptous! and even better when enjoyed in the company of friends.
Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
In a food processor, coarsely chop 3 cans (15 1/2 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained; and 1 cup chopped tomatoes, also drained.
In a big 6 quart soup kettle, saute ( in 1/4 cup of butter ) - 1 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup minced shallots, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon salt. When the onion has softened, stir in bean puree.
Add 4 cups beef broth, one 16 oz can of pumpkin puree, and 1/2 cup dry sherry. Simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
Just before serving, add 1/2 pound diced ham and 3-4 tablespoons sherry vinegar. If necessary, simmer, stirring until heated through.
Serve garnished with sour cream or plain yogurt.


Monday, October 16, 2006

One Deep Breath-Simple Pleasures

I heartily endorse indulgence in life's simple pleasures, and the older I get, the more simple my pleasures seem to become! If I were to plan an entire day for myself filled with favorite little luxuries, this might describe it:
life’s little luxuries
a haiku series

small treasure of life
indulgence well deserved
refreshes the soul

weekly bookstore idyll
perusing shiny new tomes
book lovers delight

café awaits me
double espresso please ~
tiny cup of fuel

lunch with a friend
secrets shared heart to heart
afternoon delight

hot tea by the fire
dispels winter wind
warms body and soul

steam curls from the tub
wafting troubles away
relaxing long soak

day of small pleasures
renews my weary heart~
how lucky am I?
for more simple pleasures, read here

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Scribblings-If I Could Stop Time

Greedy woman that I am, I would love to freeze time at several points, so I could exist in an alternate universe, spending days at any wonderful place in my life I chose. For instance:
  • The year before I started school, when I already knew how to read, and could talk my grandfather into walking me to the library practically everyday so I could load up with books and have all the time in the world to read them;
  • Ninth grade, when I was the most popluar I was ever to be in the public school system, the editor of the school paper, and completely involved in "social journalism," promoting anti-war days and moratoriums for peace - a real "mover and shaker" on my junior high school campus;
  • My honeymoon (for obvious reasons);
  • The year before my son started school, when he hadn't yet been disillusioned and traumatized by the educational system and we had so much fun together;
  • 1999, when my musical career was at its most satisfying, I was performing with two really good groups, and I felt confident and sure of my abilities.

As for the choice of superhero powers, that's an easy one. I'd love to be a "doppleganger" - to have a double, so I could be in two places at once. One Becca could be in Florida, while the other was in Michigan getting her work done. Or Becca #1 could be curled up in an easy chair reading her favorite book, while the other was walking the dogs. Or both Beccas could be happily pursuing their favorite hobbies on their own keyboards - one at the computer, the other at the piano. The possibilites are endless! Suddenly, life would become twice as full and interesting. So, where do I sign up to make this happen?

for more ways to freeze time, read these


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Power of Two

I'm on retreat today. After a week of emotional highs and lows (actually, mostly lows), I'm using today as a time to regroup and rejuvenate.

Life in general has become much too hectic for me, and my own in particular is certainly no exception. While I'm aware that I brought much of this craziness on myself - by working two jobs, remaining in two church musical groups, having two homes, and two dogs to maintain (not to mention, two elderly mothers) - I feel like I'm living the life of two people in the time frame given to one.

I've had two light bulb moments in the past two weeks. The first is, that in spite of the recurrence of the number two in my life's responsibilities, I am basically one when it comes to the fulfillment of them, physically and emotionally. For the past several years, my husband has suffered from a combination of physical problems that result in chronic pain and fatigue. His job consumes all of his available energy, and I have to accept that (at least for the present time) he has very little leftover to give to the rest of life's demands. If I can't handle it all on my own, I have to cut back in areas where I can, so that life is manageable for me.

My second flash of insight was that, during this period of time, I've completely lost touch with my spirituality. In the crazy busyness of my days, I've let my morning practice of meditation/prayer slip away. I have faith in the benefits of connection with a higher power, and perhaps its the loss of this connection that has led to a sense that my life is out of control. I also realized that my current church affiliation is no longer meeting my spiritual needs, a painful realization for lots of reasons, but one I must face and remedy in order to re-connect with this aspect of my life.

I awoke early this morning, to a grey, chilly sky, with black clouds racing across the horizon. Wrapped in my warmest fleecy jammies, I spent some time in quiet reflection, concentrating on my breathing, remembering to breathe in serenity and breathe out anxiety. With the simple act of opening my hands, which I realized are often closed into tight fists, I felt a similar opening in my heart, parting the darkness left by worry and obligation, creating space for the positive energy to flow.

My eyes opened to this view from my front window ~

Two black clouds divided by the morning sun to reveal bright blue sky and morning light.

During the time I've been writing, the sun has made a full-fledged, brilliant appearance. I started out my retreat day feeling almost as if I were in retreat - from living life in any sort of positive, productive way. But now, I'll continue on my retreat by heading out with the dogs for a long walk in the park, feeling refreshed and armed with new resolve.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fall Elegy

It's nearly impossible not to love a day like today.

Who would scorn this brilliant blue sky that invites your eyes to dive into its deepest end?

Who could turn their back to this breeze, that caresses your skin with the barest hint of chill, then sighs like a lover, satisfied?

Who would not wish to gather great armfuls of these scarlet and gold medallions, to drape around their neck?

I suppose there are some who would say ~ it's too cold, I must rake all these leaves, and besides, winter's coming soon.

I would say to them, leave all that for tomorrow.

Fall into this beauty, today.

*I started writing this poem on Monday, when the trees were at their most fiery red and gold, the air held a hint of warmth, and a fleece hoodie was warm enough to see you through the day. Sadly, before I even finished writing, the tide had turned. For the past two days, icy cold wind has savagely torn most the scarlet ornaments from the red maples in my yard. Huge flakes of wet snow pelted my windshield yesterday afternoon. I reluctantly unearthed my winter jacket from the storage closet this morning. Before winter sets in earnest, I'm hopeful that fall will make another appearance, at least briefly. I'd like an opportunity to say good-bye.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Life Changes In An Instant

At the risk of whining, which I try not to do here too often, I have to say this has been a pretty crappy week so far. If I were a little younger, I'd say it was "the time of the month," but, since that issue no longer arises for me, I guess I'll have to attribute it to plain old bitchiness. I've overslept the past two mornings, so I've barely had time to get out the door dressed, much less enjoy my first cup of coffee reading time or do my morning pages. The dogs are extremely dirty and smelly, and I don't have time to take them to the groomer until Thursday. I accidently left wet laundry in the washing machine before I went to Florida! which I've had to re-wash three times because it smelled so bad. Anyway, it's just been a week when things like this are really irritating my nerves.

So, I drag home from work today, and the postman had stuffed a huge pile of mail in my box - five days of accumulated catalogs (yes, the holidays are coming soon!), credit card offers (just what I don't need), bank statements, a few bills, and tons of political advertisements of the "my opponent is the biggest loser of all time variety." There were a few belated birthday cards for my husband (plus one for Magic who just turned 4), and an invitation to a Halloween party. Tucked in among this grocery bag full of wasted trees, was a letter from a friend I hadn't heard from in a while. Here's what it said:

"Dear Friends:

Last month we found out that Bill has Stage IV melanoma. You may remember that he had surgery seven years ago, but it apparently did not get rid of all the cancer cells, and melanoma has now spread to his lungs and to lymph nodes in the center of his chest. He currently has no symptoms. The spread was discovered when two moles on his scalp were found to be melanoma. A CT scan revealed the lung spots. He will be undergoing Interleukin-2 treatment, which is intended to boost his immune system to better fight the melanoma. We are asking for your prayers during this time of treatment...especially since melanoma, once is has spread, is particularly hard to get rid of. Thank you for all your supporting thoughts and prayers. All are appreciated."
Needless to say, this certainly knocked me back a peg or two. How dare I feel aggravated by lack of sleep, household chores piling up, or dirty dog feet on the furniture? Here is my friend, who has a 12 year old daughter to raise, facing the possible loss of her husband.

Life does turn on a dime doesn't it? If you haven't read Joan Didion's remarkable memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, I highly recommend it. In it, she writes of the night in 2003 when her husband sat down at their dining room table, suffered a massive coronary, and died while she was in the kitchen fixing his dinner plate. At the same time, their only daughter was hospitalized and in a coma from septic shock and pneumonia. Her first words in that book are "Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner, and life as you know it ends."

So instead of going to bed grouchy and disgruntled tonight, I've spent some time this evening being grateful for the health and wholeness of my family. Why is it that I can't remember to do this without being hit on the head by someone elses sadness?
Go hug someone you love that you're fortunate enough to still have with you. And say a few prayers for my friends, if you would.


Monday, October 9, 2006

One Deep Breath-Countryside

for more countryside haiku, go here
photo courtesy of here

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Just Another Day in Paradise

Four days fly by awfully quickly when you're in paradise. At least, here in Naples, it seems like paradise. The southwest Florida humidity has given way to cooler, drier, air, the rainy season is over and gone, and temperatures hover around the mid-80's during the day. Best of all, the snowbirds haven't arrived, so traffic is light and there are no long lines in restaurants. Sometimes when we travel here to our "second home," it takes me a while to unwind from the pressures of work and family life back in Michigan. This time, though, I could feel my spirit relax the minute we stepped off the plane into the familiar palm tree lined landscape.

Since the day we arrived was my husband's birthday, we headed out to our favorite "celebration" restaurant, Bistro 821, on Fifth Avenue. Other than a few people gathered at the bar, we were the only diners in the place for most of the evening. That never happens during "season," when you must make a reservation at least several days in advance. My favorite dish is a miso sake roasted Chilean sea bass, served with garlic mashed potatoes. It's absolutley the best fish I've tasted anywhere, and I order it every time I go to the Bistro.

Jim's birthday present from all of us was a new road bike, so part of our first full day was spent at Naples Cyclery, where we picked out a neat black and silver 21 speed bike for him. He decided it would be lots more fun riding with a partner, so (lucky me!) I got a new bike too! Our community is the perfect place for bike riding. There are five miles of smooth blacktop roads, plus lots of little inland lakes with bridges everywhere, giving you an opportunity to play with some of the 21 gears! We dutifully rode our five miles every morning, and I've never enjoyed exercise quite so much.

The remainder of the trip was spent "just hanging out," as my son calls it, which translates into reading, napping, eating, shopping, and general relaxing. We made a trip to the beach, where the water in the Gulf was the perfect temperature for wading.

Naples is one of the fastest growing communities in Southwest Florida. It's an old resort town, and there are LOTS of very rich people here, both long time residents, and the "nouveau riche" who come to spend winters in palatial, movie star style homes lining the Gulf of Mexico. Our home is certainly not in that category, but it seems spacious to us. It has the bright, wide open feel that I love, with lots of windows overlooking some of the many lakes and fountains in the community. The community itself is very resort like, with large swimming pools and tennis courts within walking distance, as well as a restaurant, hair salon, and post office. When we visit during the most crowded times of the winter season, I'm perfectly happy to hoard some groceries, bring along lots of videos and books, and just cocoon myself here where I can relax, with all the comforts of home.

Of course, much of the charm of Naples is in the fact that our son and daughter in law live here, too. As a matter of fact, they're currently within an easy bike ride of our home. But, they're "movin' on up," as the saying goes, and we spent yesterday afternoon walking through the construction site of the new, larger home they're building. (Their home here in Island Walk is on the market, so if any of you are interested in joining me here in paradise, click on the handy link at the top of the page for more info.) Luckily, they've chosen to build their new home in a new community right next door, so they will still be within bike riding distance.

I've recently been posting a lot lately about my home in Michigan, and, as much as I love this tropical paradise we call our second home, that's exactly what it is - a "second" home. How lucky we are to have it, when the cold winter winds blow, and the fast paced, stressful life of the city becomes overwhelming. And especially when we need a hug from our kids -that alone, makes anyplace a paradise!


Sunday Scribblings-Naples Ladies

Campiello's on Third Street in Naples, Florida, is a favorite place for Naples Ladies to lunch. On this sunny Thursday in October, there are already several NL's sipping Bellini's and spreading delicate dabs of homemade butter on warm Italian herb bread. While waiting on the arrival of their Pecan Roasted Chicken Salad, they lean in closer to their companions to discuss the latest exploits of their friend's errant husbands, or the abominal scores of The Club tennis team. A perfectly manicured, diamond encrusted hand might be placed gently on the forearm of their companion, when the news about Susan and Geoffrey's son - "I heard he was actually living with another man!" - is delivered. This same hand will then gently brush aside a strand of blond hair, highlighted to perfection and maintained in touch up sessions by Robert's weekly visits to their home.

The Naples Ladies are a character unto themselves, the epitome of old style Florida riche. They wear St. John suits year round, drive top of the line Jaguar, BMW, and (for the younger set) Lexus convertibles. Their studiously applied makeup accentuates skin deeply tanned and lined by the Florida sun, basked in during long hours on the golf course, tennis court, or lounging by the pool. Their platinum jewelry is from Tiffany's or Cartier, and tastefully adorns neck, ears, wrists, and fingers, stoping just short of being ostentatious. They have a regal bearing, as befits their place in the upper echelon of Florida society, and when they enter the patio of this very upscale restautant, your eye can't help but gravitate toward them.

On the outside, these women are a perfect package, complete in the most minute detail from head to toe. But everytime I see them, I observe an emptiness within, a lack that all the expensive trappings of the rich woman's lifestyle cannot deny. I think it's the messiness of life that makes it so interesting - I can't imagine these women crawling on the floor playing games of hide and seek with their children (or dogs!), or joining them to create bright fingerpaintings. Or sharing bottles of cheap wine with a friend while crying over a favorite movie. It's hard being perfect all the time, and the faces of the Naples Ladies reflect the effort it takes to portray this facade.

Whenever I'm in Naples, I eat lunch at Campiello's. I'm no Naples Lady - I'm just a messy, menopausal mom from Michigan - but I have a feeling there are many ways in which my life is a whole lot richer.

For more characters, go here


Friday, October 6, 2006

Poetry Thursday (friday)-The Body

Artists attain a unique kind of immortality. The writer, particularly, because the reader makes a tactile connection with the words. By holding the book in our hands, breathing our breath onto the pages, we make a bodily connection with that author, living or dead. I wonder if those writers who have left their bodies behind can feel those connections, somewhere deep in their repose?

It will not remain on the earth
this body of mine,
these connections of sinew, blood, and bone,
this particular arrangement of genetic material
aligned to imprint
dark hair, fair skin, green eyes,
and the tendency to cry easily.

One day long after this body has gone,
a book opens.
The whisper of a readers breath flutters the page,
while eyes eagerly drink words
that once flowed through my veins.

A pinpoint of light pierces my darkness,
a feather-light tickle stirs my soul,
and for that moment,
I live again.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

One Deep Breath - Books

seem to
crowding the shelves
a rabbit warren of words

These are only two of the many overcrowded bookshelves in my house! Most of them are in the basement (hence the dark picture!) and have, I'm sort of ashamed to say, spilled over into heaps and piles on the floor, the desk, boxes, and, yes, even my husband's once loved pool table is now piled with books. I just can't help myself when it comes to these lovely repositories of words and ideas, so neatly packaged with their slick covers and clean smelling pages. It really doesn't seem as if I buy all that many - perhaps they truly are multiplying in secret down there in the dark!
Go here for more haiku about books


Days in the Park

My creation
Originally uploaded by beccabee.

I've been spending a lot of time in this park lately. Usually at least once a day, weather permitting, Magic, Molly, and I go meandering through. Sometimes they're lucky enough to scare off a flock of ducks, and yesterday we sent a gaggle of Canadian geese squawking off angrily into the sky.

The Rouge River runs through here, and in addition to ducks, sadly enough the water is often home to a fair amount of rubbish, deposited by students on their way to and from the local high school. For the past few years the county has organized "Clean Up the Rouge Days," and the commnunity turns out en masse, doing a fair job of clearing it out.

I've lived in this community since 1961. Called "Redford," it's the place where the earliest settlers back in the 1840's forded the Rouge (or "red") River. My husband was born and raised here. He recalls winters when he was a child and the big grassy area (pictured in the lower right hand corner) was frozen into a skating rink, complete with a warming shed and concession stand selling hot drinks. It was "the place to be" for teenagers on Friday nights, and families on weekend afternoons.

By the time our son was growing up in the 1980's, the skating rink was a distant memory. But flanking this lovely valley are marvelous sledding hills, and we took great advantage of those. We would bundle Brian into his snowsuit and boots, stuff our chubby cocker spaniel into her blue plaid sweater, fill a thermos with hot chocolate, and spend the better part of an afternoon flying down the hills, and then hauling ourselves wearily back up.

This community was once known as "The Gateway to the Suburbs," since it was one of the first independent areas of development outside the Detroit city limits. It was once the place upwardly mobile post-WWII generation members started to move to raise their families.
Things are changing greatly here, as you might imagine. The population is now heavily blue collar, and the community is suffering greatly from the effects of the downturn in the automotive industry. There are "for sale" signs on dozens of houses, and yesterday, our little supermarket, owned by the same family for the past 45 years, posted hand written "going out of business" signs on the front windows.

Needless to say, this downward trend breaks my heart. My family has so much history here, and it isn't often these days that a family lives in one place for more than two generations. In these times when people's lives are so transient and impermanent, it's nice to have been able to raise our son in the same home his grandfather built over 55 years ago. I love walking in this park everyday, remembering the days when I pushed Brian in his stroller, thinking about the times that my husband rode his bike over these same sidewalks, and walked these same paths to school.

A few years ago we bought another home in Florida, near our son and daughter-in-law. It's brand new, and I'm the first to admit how exciting it is to have a shiny new house. But in some ways it will never replace this one, with the history and the memories it holds.

I don't know how many more days in the park we'll have. But I like to think that we've left some tracks there, and I hope there will be more young mothers, children, and puppy dogs to follow them.