Monthly Archives: April 2010


I found something to console myself these last few days (much stress around continued revisions of next novel) by accident. I’m about to open another blank journal, only these days I collage….that’s too grand a word….I cut out images and words I like and then I paste them randomly on the blank pages. It’s quite exciting to open one’s journal and come across an image. Somehow the pages don’t seem so white and empty, and it’s fun to wonder what I was thinking when I picked that image.

So, in making my soon-to-be journal ready, I found myself on the floor with scissors and glues and lots of images from magazines, and there was something so soothing in the pasting of the images on the blank pages. It was lulling enough to make me forget for a time my current upset around my revisions, novel, career as a writer. I went to some quiet, focused-completely-on-the-matter-at-hand place, and those kinds of places provide rest.

How do you soothe yourself? What takes you to a no-mind quiet? (Addictions can; but there’s guilt afterwards and perhaps chaos.) And how do you make your journal interesting? And what do you write in your journal? I try to focus on Rachel Naomi Ramen’s three questions: what inspired me today, what surprised me today, what touched me today…..and the answer on this particular day in big old Houston, Texas would have been the wind all day long and the blooming star jasmine spilling over the fence.

Thanks to friend and fellow writer Kate for the idea about collaging a journal. We did it a few years ago during our dance meditation summer monastery, and you’ve never seen grown women so absorbed. For days afterwards, we’d be all over the house and dance space during our lulls leafing through magazines for images and pasting them into our journals….lovely…..



“Caustic and eccentric, proud of having nothing to live on but his pension after having once been rich, he possessed courage, effrontery, intelligence, contempt for death, and thirst for life.”

The words stopped me. I had to reread them. What a way to be described. Sharp-tongued, not one of the herd, able to let riches go. Courage I understand. Effrontery (shameless boldness) I’d like to emulate. Contempt for death is grander than what I possess. Thirst for life. Primal. Basic. That I would like to have. And who’s being painted thusly? One Marquis de Galliffet, Prince de Martigues, nearly 70, in Barbara Tuchman‘s The Proud Tower. Tuchman, a fine historian, is writing of the political world before World War I…. when the danger of more and more sophisticated weapons and the threat that war between two nations could drag in all the rest were gradually forming on a horizon no one wanted to see.

How will I be described, I wonder? How will you? What legacies am I leaving? Are there only political ones? Surely not. Surely we small ones count for something other than cannon fodder.


It’s spring in Houston, no finer time to live here. My siren of a garden inspired this; it just fell out of my pen, a great thrill for a writer…………………..

The lilies are blooming. Is Cleopatra turning over in her grave, raising her long swan’s neck, clapping her hands for kohl and incense, wondering if Mark Anthony still loves her, if Augustus is worth seducing? Does she flutter slim fingers at handmaidens made of night and funeral ashes and ask for her diadem, her robe, her ring of red coral? The lilies, whose necks are even more slender than hers, sigh her name. The wind moves green lilylithe arms in summons, whispers the old names, Osiris, Isis, Thoth, and the great mother Nile………………………..

When I was a child, Egypt called to me, and I filled my mind with facts and stories from here. One I remember is Mara, Daughter of the Nile. What called you in your childhood? Was it a faraway place? Was it the here and now? Did books help you go there?

her purse

To while away time while she gets her hair cut, I check out her purse.  What’s inside makes me laugh and cry––the sash to her caretaker’s robe, carefully folded up; a few loose coins (in the old days, those coins would have been where they were supposed to be, in her wallet); recent greeting cards she’s received; earrings; and two old fig newtons, crumbling and adding crumbs to the coins. The fig newtons make me laugh. But what makes me cry is coming across her wallet’s photo of Dad, just floating there, not in its proper place. She took it out of its sleeve and then couldn’t remember how to get it back or maybe even to put it back. So I put him where he belongs and where he’s been ever since I can remember. He’s the only photo now in her wallet––a wallet once packed with credit cards and cash and photos of family, symbolic of her famed organization and her abundance. Dad’s somber  face looks toward the camera. It’s getting harder, Dad, I think, and I imagine his face watchful, waiting on her……………….

A woman’s purse is personal and so representative of each individual woman. What we carry in it. Purses we’ve loved. The events to which they were witness. A wonderfully creative Houston artist, Mary Margaret Hansen, has a website just about purses and their stories. My Mom’s story is Alzheimer’s, and her purse shows it. What’s yours?

I’d love to know….