Monthly Archives: December 2008


The pigeon just walked closer and closer to those sitting out on the patio, hopped right up on the glass table top. My mother put out her hand, and without fear, he climbed aboard. My neice captured the moment with her camera, momtelling me later, everyone but Mother was a little bit “freaked out.” Mom doesn’t freak out these days. She spends a lot of time organizing and reorganizing her closet. It takes her even longer to dress; sometimes she calls for help but can’t articulate what she needs. Words are leaving her. I can see the Alzheimer’s taking away more and more from her. For Christmas, I made copies of the picture and sent it to people who love her. She can still charm the birds from the trees, I wrote. Everyone loved the picture. My sister-in -law thinks the pigeon was my father, who died in 1994.

Wouldn’t that be lovely?


The clay


I was talking to a friend of mine who is an artist. I was complaining that I’m having a hard time writing the ending of this next book. She said an interesting thing, that she can’t control her creativity. That what comes out comes out, even if she has something else in mind.


Yes, being patient, waiting for the shape of the story to show itself takes more than I have in me sometimes. I have to put words down, though, or the shape doesn’t show itself. It’s as if the words, the scenes, the sequels, on the page are the clay. If I never put anything down, I never have anything to touch and mold into something else. It’s only after words are down that mind starts flashlighting the better shape for me––have him say this, have her do that, take that out. The scene changes, but it can only change when I have written it down. I must bear the imperfection until the muse refines it to something that works for the story. Christmas has me frazzled. All my creativity seems to be going into that. But maybe I have to do what I’m doing, errands and cooking and decorating and making or finding presents and having lunches with old friends, no time at the moment for the book. I guess that’s the clay of my life, the way it’s shaping it to its final form, to its one and only story.

Snow on Wednesday

Christmas sights this week:

6 members of the Salvation Army choir singing their hearts out at the entrance to Walgreen’s, their voices carrying through the air to my car as I drive by…..santa

Great Christmas lights in River Oaks where enormous oaks dangle long strands of light from limb to ground…..

Snow, last snow 2004, next snow who knows, snow on Wednesday evening, swirling down fast enough to stick. I have to take a walk in it, stand under street lights where I can see it best. Its beauty shakes my heart. Who knows when I’ll see it again. And sure enough, by the next afternoon, it’s almost temperate. Houston in winter….

Out to Mom’s to make empanadillas, Puerto Rican meat pies, once a family tradition. We’ve upgraded. My daughter found a meat pie dough, already cut in circles. Still, it’s a lot of work, cooking pork, the smell of onion, garlic, capers, everywhere, adding a little olive, a bit of hard-boiled egg in the filling. Mom dozes in a rocking chair as we fold and fry. The meat pies are good, but not as good as memory. Isn’t that true about everything…?

Uncomplication and purity

Well, the neighbors have done it again, put up Christmas lights with complete abandon, mayhem, and disorder. It’s wonderful. Lights lurch above the sidewalk to encircle the trees. Tree trunks are wrapped haphazardly, great gaps of space between the light strings. Old fashioned tinsel garland sweeps across the front porch, thrown in the mix probably because it now1was there, and the lighting committee isn’t one to waste a thing. Lighted-wire animals are crammed in the small front yard. There’s a big peace on earth sign lit by a single hard spot. Overhead and around the house and on the fence and through the trees, lights blink, spit, twinkle. Some have tiny bulbs, some have large, some go on and off, some stay solid. No rhyme or reason as to how they’re joined. Nothing matches. Nothing ends well. In fact, it looks like when they run out of light, they just flat quit. It’s a blinding, dazzling, incoherent mismash of color and holiday spirt. I love it. Every other house is yuppified, prissy, timid. If a tree trunk is wrapped, it’s wrapped so tight that even an anal retentive can’t complain. But not the neighbors’. Every year they decorate with growing panache and anarchy. It’s garish, happy, and completely in the spirit of Christmas, reflecting both uncomplication and rash purity. It makes our redeveloped, more and more upscale neighborhood hark back to old times, when everything didn’t have to look like Martha Stewart designed it. (We used to have a house in which the owner had built a replica of a plane crashing into the roof. Those were the days.) No sir. No matching for the neighbors. No plan. Just a spectacle of color and gallant, brash, in-your-face-hurray-it’s-Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas, ya’ll.