Monday, December 31, 2012

December 2012... The Month It All Shifted

The free-fall of autumn
skidded to a screeching stop
seven days before Christmas.

Clawing out from under the yoke of expectation,
I steeled myself against the frigid aftermath of
good intentions gone wrong,
misunderstandings,
lies, and accusations.

What I found
as I faced the frost
was a sturdy blanket wrapped around my shoulders
and a warm cup of kindness
waiting by the phone.



***
My hope is that all of you, my friends and relations, arrive safely in a new year full of better health, happier times, and wealth beyond your wildest dreams (whatever wealth looks like for you). May you be reminded that you are loved on a daily basis (if not hourly) and may you choose to stand in your own truth without fear and without judgment. You are forever beautiful.

Happy 2013!



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bleary-eyed in the Dark

Fuzzy blue slippers shuffle on
an uneven sidewalk in another
much-too-early morning hour outing.
The four-legged hairy sniff monster snuffles
his nose in the grass as
Orion’s left foot winks at me.
As small as it seems there hanging in the sky,
it swallows me whole as
I’m lost in the visible vapor of my own breath.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Marking Books - WISHES: The Horror Book by G. W. Huber

Through the years I have had the privilege of editing all kinds of writing across many genres. WISHES: The Horror Book has been one of those remarkable gems that was as enjoyable to read as it was to work through. Like one of Michael Forcade’s paintings, WISHES: The Horror Book rolls out a tapestry of life with characters and family histories intricately interwoven into elaborate scenes as delicate as they are dark. Whether it be because of a young man struggling to speak or an old woman lonely for her dead husband, the reader is drawn into the fantasy of what one desires only to be reminded to “watch what you wish for.”

Straightforward and unapologetic, G. W. Huber creates a reality in which real-world difficulties bend and shift, shaped by the dreams of the desperate and the hands of something much more sinister.

Yes, I fully admit this one is close to my heart...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Atrium

Like pigeons preening
dull double-breasted plumage,
the sales force flock in the open enclosure--
cooing into Bluetooth headsets
and pecking at newly procured iPads.

Beaks rise
to the sound of fated footfalls
as each squab scrambles for position
only to strut away
slow and haughty
as the copy clerk makes her delivery.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Marking Books - The Secrets of Pain by Phil Rickman

Greg introduced me to Mr. Rickman's work over a decade ago and I've been hooked ever since. So, when we finally had our hands on The Secrets of Pain, we were more than eager for "reading time."

Being the eleventh book in the Merrily Watkins series, The Secrets of Pain takes us back to the Vicarage of Ledwardine, Herefordshire to visit with what have become a cast of "old friends." This time around, Merrily, the vicar and diocesan exorcist, finds herself in unwelcome territory for a woman and priest as she faces the Hereford-based SAS while continuing to struggle with her job, her faith, and her now eighteen-year-old daughter. Gomer, Danny, Lol, and Jane are wrapped up in their own not-quite-so-unrelated mess and DI Francis Bliss walks a rail that nearly set me off screaming at him.

Never to disappoint, Phil Rickman blurs the edges between the rational and the unexplained -- twisting reality just enough to make you wonder, all the while serving up a dose of gritty and socially conscious reality that rings as true here in the United States as it does on the Welsh border.

Although I will admit that trying to read aloud dialog from "across the pond" was tongue-tying at times for this Pennsylvanian patriot, with Greg's patience and Mr. Rickman's addictive plots and subplots, I'll be happy to take on the "hexercise" any time.

If you enjoy mystery and suspense and haven't had the pleasure of reading Phil Rickman's work, I invite you to search him out. We still must import his books here in the U.S. -- a shameful thing indeed as we feel his work should readily be available on any store's bookshelf whether it be digital or brick and mortar.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Walloped

An old demon punched me
in the face as I slept -
punched me hard.

Delicate wounds ripped open

with recollection.
Blood rushed, swelling scars,
morphing my mug
to a puffer fish pout.

In the mirror,

I find myself transformed
back some twenty-seven years -
a teenager tenderly touching
ghostly stitches.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Five Minute Friday - A Mood Modification

My romantic nature demands darkness.
Dappled light brings beauty
 down
  to
   depths
unrealized by clear blue sky.
My summer sunshine longs for autumn’s change.

My grandmother hated the fall... something about it being a time when everything is dying. Although I am a great deal like her (and miss her horribly), I've never seen autumn the same way. The smell of decaying leaves, the rusty yellows and reds, the chill in the air, the threat of heavy clouds and cold stormy nights... it's a very special time for me - a space along the veil between this existence and the next. The place where life, half hidden in shadows, shows all sides of itself.

Thanks again to Lisa-Jo for her writing prompt. Join in if you need some inspiration... the rules are simple:
  1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
  2. Link back there and invite others to join in.
  3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...
 
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Random Wisdom - Og Mandino

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” ~ Og Mandino

Corn Bread with a Kick

While this one was put together to use up an overflow of Thai peppers, the recipe is a good one without the heat too. I’ve always preferred my corn bread on the sweeter, moister side (something I never can quite get out of a box mix) so, this exploration into the baking lab sought to accomplish that. Enjoy!

See Burnt Offerings for the latest recipe.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Forcing Verse

Stealing a moment
pregnant with promise,
void of expectation.
Fingers hesitant,
mind racing, fears
of wasting
precious time stymies
inspiration, clogging flow.
Grasping at nothing,
fists finally free
the should-spoon stirring
the murky mind-waters
and the dust settles
leaving lines of
enigmatically arranged thought.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Random Wisdom - Hope Quote

"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don't give up." ~Anne Lamott

Mango Garden Salsa

With peppers just harvested from plants my brother gave me in the spring, freshly picked tomatoes and a cucumber from my uncle’s garden, and a few sprigs of oregano from my herb garden, fresh salsa was a no-brainer. While I realize most salsa recipes call for cilantro or parsley, the fresh oregano throws in a nice little twist. Fresh mint would work well too. Now that our sinuses are fully cleared thanks to a healthy dose of capsicum, I’ll just have to figure out what we are going to do with the basket that is still full of Sugar chilies and Thai peppers... hmm... maybe cornbread. ;)

See Burnt Offerings for the latest recipe: Mango Garden Salsa


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Burnt Offerings - Sazón Rice

This one is a frequent request in our house. The ingredients I’ve listed are the original “cast” and a good place to start. We have changed it up with different vegetables and meats (or gone without meat all together) and it always seems to work out well. I guess it is just one of those simple, really-hard-to-mess-up recipes. Experiment for yourself and enjoy! :)

See Burnt Offerings for the second recipe: Sazón Rice.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Five Minute Friday – Beyond

A torrent of rash reactions
fermenting fears and judgment
rushes to an end
of bruised egos and broken hearts.
I watch from the side,
unattached and beyond
but affected.

Words hold weight and, when wielded outside of integrity, they can batter a heart to mush. It is regrettable at best and very difficult to witness when one can truly do nothing to stop it. May we all choose what we say with consideration. May we make the choice to bless and not to bludgeon.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Marking Books – The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

In the past, when I was very ill with parasitic food poisoning, Greg read to me during my weeks of recovery (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King). With the onset of Greg’s vision difficulties, we have adapted our “reading time” again such that now I read to him. One benefit is that we spend time together without having to wait until one of us is finished with the story before the other can read it. The down side of that is when we run into a book that is… well, not terribly good. In those cases, we suffer together. (No, we do not put down the book without finishing it - once started, we see it through to the end.) Unfortunately, the tale we have just finished, Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift, turned out to be one of the suffering kind.

What had been anticipated joy for a new opportunity to lose ourselves in the eloquent settings and gripping story lines of Ms. Rice's imagination turned quickly into bathos and grueling disappointment as we struggled through chapter upon chapter of repetitive, unimaginative language and shallow characterization and plot. I don’t mean to be harsh… Anne Rice has proven in the past to have the inexplicable talent to transport her readers to a different place and time. Her rich descriptive narrative and ability to introduce multifaceted characters of great depth and wisdom endeared her to her fans (Greg and myself included) through stand-alone stories like The Feast of All Saints or Cry to Heaven and her captivating series such as the now famous Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witches. The premise of The Wolf Gift held promise but, unfortunately, didn’t deliver. What could have been a brand new series full of innovative plot twists, remarkable places and fascinating people fell horribly and inexcusably flat. Needless to say, I don't recommend the book. :)

Marking Books – An Introduction

Being an editor paired with a writer, I tend to read a lot. While I am not really fond of reading or writing book reviews, I am compelled at times to give praise (or warning) for  works I find to be extraordinarily good… or bad. Since I’ve begun this blog in the spirit of sharing, and I like to give authors as much exposure as I can, I’ve decided to swallow my review-aversion (to a degree) and invite you to follow along with my bookmarks.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Page [Blog]

With the latest "keeper" discovered just yesterday, I decided to expand ever-so-slightly to a new recipe blog: Burnt Offerings (check out the new tab at the top of the page). The first offering... The Tuscan Trial. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Some Housekeeping...

As I continue to recover from the computer crash of June 2012, I find myself in need of a change - something to spur me to sit in this quiet space and share experience and existence. I am happy this blog hasn't totally fallen by the wayside but I would like to nurture it more than I do presently... and so, now you have the reasoning behind the "facelift". I had considered a new blog... perhaps even moving over to try WordPress... but then realized I didn't need anything so extreme. I hope you like the new template - we'll see how long it takes before I want to move the furniture around yet again. ;)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Paraskevidekatriaphobia

Walking under workmen’s ladders,
stepping on a sidewalk crack,
picking pennies tail-side up,
crossing paths with big black cats…

Turning the calendar page,
  the number 13 burns into my existence.
After a month of constant obstacles and setbacks,
  I smile
    knowing our luck is about to change.


The computer was down for half of June and the very beginning of July (the mother board blew) which accounts for most of my silence of late. I very much appreciate your visits during my “quiet time” and thank you for your patience. May your Friday the Thirteenth (and every other day too) be happy. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ray Douglas Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012)

"Ray Bradbury, recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91 after a long illness. He lived in Los Angeles." - www.raybradbury.com

There is so much I could say about this man's work, about things he said in speeches and interviews, that has inspired me through the years but I find myself choking up and at a loss for words. Ray Bradbury was one of the first authors I read voraciously. His work was extremely influential in my decision to seriously take up writing so many years ago. If you are unfamiliar with his writing, please take a moment to peek into the  sometimes dark, sometimes harsh, sometimes wondrous and beautiful world of Ray Bradbury.

May the journey continue in some new realm... and may it be a peaceful one.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Five Minute Friday – See…

The train of late night storms left the valley in tatters –
the last of the spring blossoms
lie scattered beneath the trees.
Everywhere
broken twigs, dark and wet,
point toward rose petals
floating still in shallow puddles.

The smell of Earth
rises with the sun
and the grass seems greener.
Golden rays shine on swollen buds
illuminating the promise of new adornment.

The rain has come
and gone.
With clear eyes,
I can see once again –
tempered by the tempest.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Soaking My Feet

The steep and rocky path
forced a pebble in my shoe.
I ignored the annoyance
as it rubbed blisters into calluses.
Now, standing at a flat crest,
I can no longer bear the pain and
finally sit still
to remove the pebble – 
reaching for my sharpest blade
to whittle away dead skin.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Slowing the spin of self-denigration...

It has been well over a month since I have touched these keys with intention beyond the shallow surface of all that is mundane... Disappointed in myself - feeling less than capable, less than worthy of anything other than wading through the muck of daily survival - I've finally looked at the eyes in the mirror and called out the monster for what it is: Depression. It is so much easier to paint a smile and focus on "what needs to be done" than to simply stop and acknowledge the weariness I have felt for some time now. In the midst of crisis, I act... I do... I fix all that I can. It is when the crisis is over that I fall apart -- when I allow that for myself.

With Greg's improved vision and the promise of our first trip to Cape May in over three years, with a fist full of baseball tickets, movie tickets, and a little extra cash to go out to dinner now and then, with some sunshine and a garden that actually looks like a garden in the front, side and rear of my home, life has become a quite a bit brighter... and in the face of this joy my lurking shadows have lunged at my self-esteem. Without allowing myself to grieve for all that I have been missing, it has became difficult to accept those gifts now that they have returned. I've shoved down the hurt out of the fear of upsetting others and, without acknowledging the depths of my pain and disappointment, I've deprived the flowers of my soul much needed rain.

Please forgive the romantic metaphor. I don't mean to be overtly dramatic. I have needed to cry out without judging myself to be selfish, weak, foolish, and inadequate. Now, with tears smudging the time on this computer screen, I'm grateful for no longer caring that it is getting late and the pragmatist within is screaming at me to go to bed so I can get up early for another day of work. It is long past time that I allow myself to fall apart and so, I am grateful for this space where I can finally permit myself to scream... grieve... and release. My poetry waits just behind the tips of my fingers... I have only to stop spinning to find myself centered and writing again.

I thank all that is holy and good for Greg, for Milo, for honesty and love and the support of all who never stop caring. Thank you. May we all finally find a gentle night's rest...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Rain

I wake with swollen hands
and sore shoulders.
The compost pile,
full of weeds and overgrowth, sits
like a bloated Buddha laughing
at my unfit frame.
Last night
the clouds cried at the loss of life but
the Earth released
a fragrance of gratitude
and waits, prepared
for another season of abundance.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just venting...

"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation... For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.... We, therefore... solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States..."  ~In Congress, July 4, 1776 - The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America (The Declaration of Independence)

Having finally finished filing my 2011 income taxes with more than a little frustration toward my employer's payroll department and my local city government, I am both relieved and repulsed by that relief... I would much rather contribute out of love for my society and a duty to offer my fair share so that we all may benefit and yet, in truth, I pay from a place of fear of persecution and penalty. Almost 236 years ago, my nation declared independence from a government that was seen by many as overbearing and unfair. As I look to my friends and neighbors continuing to lose their homes, still struggling to find work, I wonder when our current Congress last read our own declaration. Our founding fathers felt the Crown was "out of touch" with the needs of our people. I wonder what they would be thinking now...

And now... The patriot will get off her soapbox, enjoy the beautiful morning and be thankful for all that she has.

May we all find that we have all that we need.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chilled

As I stood still
in March’s early morning chill,
I realized I didn’t hear the birds.
Only the banging
of freight cars and
the metal on metal grind of wheels clacking
along miles of train track
broke the silence.
Back in the house,
I wrapped myself in a hot cup of tea
and said to no one,
“They are simply sleeping...
they are simply sleeping.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Quick Note...

There are "Links of Interest" on this page - all of which mean something to me. But, as I took some time this morning to begin my day with inspiration deeper than what is on my daily work agenda, I caught up with one of those links and now feel compelled to mention it in the hopes that those who have not gone there will.

Diary of a Heart in Transit is the creation of a beautiful soul who reaches out and gives compassion and space to all who would make this a better world. Her thoughts, poetry, interviews... all have been a source of comfort and hope for me. If you will, please take the time to visit... and thank you MarieHarmony. I guess I needed your words this morning. :)

Choosing to spread light...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Random Wisdom - Rumi

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
                      ~ Rumi

I stumbled upon this one today and remembered the first time I heard it... goodness... 1997, Kingview, Ontario. Has it really been 15 years? I have to smile when I think of that circle of souls. I miss that space and yet... here, in the chambers of my heart, I still sit in it. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Random Wisdom - The Tao Te Ching

2
Under heaven all can see beauty as
beauty only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only
because there is evil.

Therefore having and not having arise together.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short contrast each other:
High and low rest upon each other;
Voice and sound harmonize each other;
Front and back follow one another.

Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, 
teaching no-talking.
The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,
Creating, yet not possessing.
Working, yet not taking credit.
Work is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.

The Tao Te Ching, Translation by Gia Fu Feng and Jane English, 
Comments and layout by Thomas Knierim.
Found at: www.thebigview.com

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rise and Shine

Amid the pleading of the morning birdsong,
the waning moon offers the sliver a smile
and gently lifts
the night’s coverlet from the sun.
Lavender yields to crimson,
to amber, as the sun rises
warming the day
and roughly pulling
winter’s heavy blanket from my soul.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Begins

Woken by four paws and tongue,
I rise into the murky morning.
The still house
opens to gray mist as
I cling
to the end of a taught blue leash.
A mild mid-March
celebrated in bright greens and daffodil yellow
sings a robin’s song
as hope and gratitude
fall wet upon my face.

I remember wondering how Matsuo Bashō and Kobayashi Issa could write so much and so often about cherry blossoms… then, on mornings like this one, I understand. Or, at least I can delude myself into thinking I understand those old masters. ;)

I have been absent from this blog for far too long. A recurring theme, I’m afraid, when it comes to The Rogue Nun – no matter what her medium. At least it is weeks, a month perhaps, rather than years this time. I must be reaching a higher level of focus and maturity. *laughing* I thank you all for your patience and ongoing support.

Allow me to stretch the feast of St. Patrick a bit longer with an old Irish blessing…

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Vivid

The alarm clock peals
and I’m startled
to find myself in the dark.
The white table,
the warm tea,
my father –
just in front of me,
now gone.
Our conversation as real as my tears.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Awake

Stopped at a red light and t-boned by awareness.
Not sure how I came.
Not even sure of time and temperature.
Wondering what I left in the wake of popping to this spot.
Cars speed through the intersection
but the rest of the world seems frozen
as I gather my bearings – still unbalanced.
Jolted awake by stopping...

I really do think that the corporate mindset creates a zombie existence… *sigh* Good morning everyone. :)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Them

The others.
The opposition.

Race, religion, gender, class...
Philosophy.

This kaleidoscope of precious gems
   cannot turn when caked with mud.
Its beautiful mosaic
   cannot be seen
without the light of reason.

I really should stop watching the run for presidency... or perhaps I should just stop watching the news altogether. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In Recovery

Waking from an overdose of bed-rest,
I remove the infusion of soup and hot tea and stumble
to the mirror to assess progress.
Not the percentage I'd hoped for
but enough to exchange a cotton gown
for dress pants and a sweater.
Shrugging into my warmest coat,
I brace for January air and step outside.
Exhaling in a billow of white vapor,
I can see that I've survived.