Monthly Archives: May 2009

kiss that frog

There’s a fairy tale about a princess and a frog in the pond in the royal garden. The frog rescues the princess’s golden ball and tells her that if she frogwill give him one kiss he will turn into a handsome prince. The drama comes from the fact that the princess doesn’t want to kiss a frog–who does– but in the end, she gives in, and he becomes what he said, a handsome prince. I was thinking about this because I had been listening to the Peter Gabriel’s song, Kiss that Frog, and I thought about all the frogs in life, not just people, but events that I haven’t liked, that I said were ugly. And I was thinking about acceptance, about kissing them, and about transformation, when an event or person turned out to have been a blessing in disguise. Do you know what I mean? And I can think of handsome princes I was more than willing to kiss, and they were frogs at heart. And I can think of things I was so reluctant to do, and I was wrong. The reluctance was about fear. Can’t you hear beyond the croaking? Gabriel sings. So what’s a little kiss, one tiny little touch? Jump in the water, come on, baby, kiss that frog.


a flower

May I step in peace upon the earth….I bow to you, a flower…..DSC_0094it’s a Sufi heart-opening meditation I learned this weekend, and the words keep reverberating inside. What does it mean to step in peace upon the earth? I have this sense of a kind of sacredness with every leaf, every stone, every tree. I have this sense of a respect on my part, not a blind using what I want and walking away. I have this sense of everything being sentient. I have this sense of my immense clumsiness. And bowing to a flower….I almost can’t wrap my mind around the words and the images that float up. A flower is so simple, so small, so low to the ground. It reminds me of the Christ’s words: Inasmuch as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethern, ye have done it unto me. Are we not all flowers upon the earth, too…? I bow to you, a flower…..

rachel alexandra


Rachel Alexandera has made me so happy. She’s a filly who just won the Preakness, the first filly to do so since 1924. Her jockey and trainer and owner say she’s a one in a million kind of gal. I just feel happy that she had the stamina and power to run with the colts, who can rough up a lady on the race track. I remember being roughed up in the racetrack of my life, told by boys to be quiet, not to boss them around even though I was smarter and had the best ideas and for awhile they’d let me boss. Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t ok. It’s an interesting conundrum, this life of ours, where we have to fit into the mores of our society and surroundings or pay the price. As I age as a woman, I can look back at all the ways I fit myself into the boxes of what I was told a woman was. Now I don’t know anymore: I’m just glad there are so many more choices and that women can possess real power in a racetrack that often understands only that. And I can rejoice when a filly outruns the colts. Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.


DSC_0096Walking down the street in this hot evening, aware of Confederate jasmine in full bloom everywhere with its little alabaster five fingered petals and magnolias blossoming, dark green leaves, tight creamy blossoms that open to splendid plates of flowers, and gardenias, snow white many layered, all their heavy southern perfumes filling the air…..May where I live, and the humidity here, so that no walk is without perspiration, dewy or not, and the moon is full right now and there is a mist of an aura all around it, I wonder what that means, I love walking down the sidewalk because all the fences are filled with the little starry flowers, a Confederate jasmine May……………………..


How did this novel I’m working on come about? What sparked the creative urge to write it (other than insanity to think I could)? What was its seed? As a girl, I focused on English history, on the Tudors, because of their strong queens, and on the War of the Roses. When I was in college, newly married, I joined the Book of the Month Club. I loved books, leafand I grew up in a family that didn’t value them. Now I could have one of my choice coming to me every month, thanks to my ex-husband’s generosity (he loved books, too). One of the books I chose was Nancy Mitford’s The Sun King. It was about Louis XIV, and I lingered over every page with its beautiful photos as Mitford lightly and intelligently overviewed the span of his reign. I began to read French history. I liked the Louis’s, XIV, V, XVI (16 lost his head on the guillotine). 

Of the Louis’s, only 14 really interests me, and as a novelist, the relationship he had with the women in his life fascinated me. I wanted to write about those women and their axis, him, only the story was too big. As a writer, I kept getting lost and overwhelmed. Only when I broke off a piece to use in another novel did I realize I’d tried to contain something too large for its container. And so this novel was born, with its focus on three months in this king’s life when he was twenty-two and carved his place in history. History slights all but the most aggressive of his loves, but I believe it was the shy love, the love of those three months and years afterward, that was the wing beneath his wings. 

Interesting questions, those: Who are the people in our lives who have helped us be all we can be? And how many of them have we left behind?