At the moment of most abundance

My son calls about once a week, typically on his walk home from work or on his way home from class (sometimes sustainable design, sometimes women’s studies); and his brain at 9 pm is on fire, and the possibilities in front of him unlimited, and his capacity to ponder and purpose and pursue lines of thinking is exponentially expansive while my world steadily shrinks in the dark.

“I bought a new spice rack and a Q-tip holder today,” I tell him. “And I found a chai frosted pumpkin loaf at Trader Joes!”

Which is to say, I’m tired, and not just at 9 pm, but in 2018 and 2017 and 2016.

Has it been this long?

It won’t always be this way.

Once my guys (and the country) are set, I’ll rise up again, right? Just as soon as I dismantle all the photo albums and the bins and the boxes in the basement and the attic, 25 years of home-nourishing that in this empty nest weigh me down.

It’s just around the corner.

57 is apparently the peak of women’s happiness, not 18 or 21 as suspected. My mother died at that peak and my grandmother just before it, like the leaves who let go at the height of their beauty.

What is that poem? I have it somewhere. What’s her name? It’s something unusual.

Monza Naff, that’s it!

Wait, aren’t I FB friends with someone named Monza Naff? Did she write the verse that I’ve turned toward every September when the anniversary of my mother’s passing comes along? (Is that how we became friends. Memory!)


~Urge me to drop every leaf I don’t need
Every task or habit I repeat past its season
Every sorrow I rehearse
Each unfulfilled hope I recall
Every person or possession
to which I cling-
Until my branches are bare,
until I hold fast
to Nothing

Blow me about
in your wild iron sky,
all that’s puffed up,
all that in me needs
to go to seed,
send my shadows to sleep.

Tutor me
through straining night winds
In the passion of moan and pant
The gift of letting go
At the moment of most abundance
In the way of
falling apples, figs, maple leaves, pecans.

Open my eyes
to your languid light,
let me stare in your face
until I see no difference
between soar and fall

until I recognize
in single breaths,
faint whispers of cool air
through lungs.

Show me the way of dying
in glorious boldness
Yellow,gold, orange, rust, red, burgundy.


“At the moment of most abundance.”

Yesterday, I woke with the runs, today I woke angry. “Anger is sad’s bodyguard.” This is sometimes true about anger, especially if it is stuck. But I needn’t fear. She is coming. We saw her yesterday.

Dr. Ford–vulnerable, poised, transparent in terror and anxiety, clear, considerate, accomplished, tender, fierce.

What is leaving is just as certain.

We saw that yesterday afternoon too.

Petulant. Entitled. Blaming.

Kavanaugh and Trump are emblematic of the Patriarchy unhinged; and day after day this creaking of the archaic contraction that has long oppressed so many wakes more and more of us, especially the women–from our illusion that strength and purpose and understanding is outside of us–finally realizing that we can lead–through tenderness, strength and purpose matched with commitment to voicing what is true, while loving husbands and brothers and uncles and sons.

“I can’t think of anything but Kavanaugh and chai-frosted pumpkin cake,” I might have said to my son when he called home last night, but instead I marveled at his capacities, and how I helped bring them to bear, and how if I’m fortunate, they will help make life better for others, and for himself, long after I’m gone.

the legacy of shame

solar-sisters tumblr

Shame. Disappointment. Burden.

With SpRiNg comes renewed attention to my insides as I recommit to what I want on the outside.

I’m curious about your relationship with disappointment.

In a New Year chakra clearing, I gained some clarity around the way I linger with and lay  disappointment onto the men in my home.

It was a painful visual, but it also leads me into compassion for the disappointment I must carry inside. My sense of my father’s almost constant disappointment in me. The weight of disappointment that my mother and grandmothers carried.

I’m no longer willing to be the legacy bearer for that burden.

This sweetly complements my intention to cultivate satisfaction–inside–with a moment to moment practice of saying “Yes,” to what ever arises–on my path, or in my psyche–as an invitation instead of a problem, as something I greet without abandoning, rejecting or shaming myself as “wrong.”

I suspect the practice will be a daily one for the rest of my days.


Grandma Anna Love

I brought home two items from Anna’s place on Anthony Street : a steel tub and a small feather pillow, which my boys later named: Grandma Anna’s pillow.

They also dubbed our morning eggs: Grandma Anna eggs, because of the way my husband makes them just the way she made them; and then there was also: Grandma Anna’s shells, which weren’t actually hers at all, but another woman’s, named Annie, who owns a food line, but the boys refused to honor that distinction.

Anna lived in the Berkshires in an old home looking out at Mount Greylock. I loved to sit at her kitchen table, in front of the big picture window, with a cup of hot tea in our hands, taking in the mountain and talking about our days.

Sometimes we’d take ourselves out back to her Adirondack chairs, and stare across the right-of-way to Mrs. Mente’s majestic Maple as it blazed into Autumn.

“Maybe you’ll never have a baby,” Anna said to me as we soaked up the color around us, “but you have a good husband and good job, and that’s enough.”

It wasn’t enough for me, and Anna lived long enough to meet her great-grandson, but by the time he was old enough to know her, she was rapidly declining in health.

In the year before his birth, Anna was forced to leave the Berkshires to move in with family just after we had relocated to New England ourselves.

I remember the day we packed up Anna’s house. I was very pregnant at the time, and delighted to discover a small feather pillow that no one else claimed. I wasn’t sure how I’d use it, but that first night, I tucked it under my burgeoning belly and it helped me sleep.

Twenty years later, and I still sleep with that pillow, and I’d love to tell Anna about that, and about how my youngest son, who she never met, enjoys a small cup of coffee, with a lot of milk and sugar, just like she made for my husband in her kitchen when he was a boy.

“She likes you already,” he told me the first time we met.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“She made Boston butt,” he said, emphatically. (The last time he brought a girl up to the mountains to meet his grandmother, she had handed him some cash and sent them off to McDonald’s.)

We did get along well, Anna and I. Our conversations picked up with each season’s visit… summer, autumn, winter,  spring… talking our way through her long life and into my twenty-something years.

Anna welcomed my family into her home too: my youngest siblings on long weekend getaways; and my sister and her family when they were driving through. There was always tea, and Oreos in the canister, sweet bread in the drawer, and Keilbasa from the German butcher on the stove.

Years later, Anna danced at my wedding, and when we visited her as a married couple, she insisted that we take her bed; which makes me remember of an earlier trip when I asked about sleeping with her grandson.

Grandma Anna's Barrel 9 months pregnant
Grandma Anna’s Barrel
9 months pregnant

“Anna, how would you feel if Casey and I stayed together in same room?”

It was a couple years into our relationship (and a handful of visits later) when I suggested that Casey simply ask his grandmother if we could share a room so that we didn’t have to sneak out back on those cold Berkshire nights. He refused, appalled at the impropriety, and so I went ahead and asked myself.

“Don’t do anything, I wouldn’t do,” she replied.

(ps. I was 22 when I first met Anna, and then a decade older–and 9 months pregnant–in this photo with my feet soaking in her barrel. Later it became a tub for my boys. And most recently, on my 50th birthday, we stocked Anna’s barrel with bottles of champagne.)