New Year's Eve

I sent my BURN IT email to West Virginia storyteller Susannah Holstein. She will toss my troubles on her annual midnight bon fire tonight and free me to start the year feeling lighter

I read through my 2006 calendar. It has been a full year.
Some high points sure -

Mama at 90 made it though hip surgery -
our family is still in decent health -
Jim and I made a trip to Ireland which had mixed reviews but was something we had long wanted to do -
Jim and I spent a wonderful week-end in NC at Patti Digh's first 37 Day Retreat -
My storytelling career is healthy and busy -

But I have to ask myself - are these really the most important moments?
If not, what are the important moments?

Jim and I lived another year together and celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary yesterday.
My girlhood friend Carolyn died and I have to face the reality of my mortality with sharper clarity.
I am off track about some really significant stuff.
And on and on.

Do I make resolutions to change things -
ordinarily I would have said yes,
until I read Holly Stevens essay on Storyteller and LIstener. Her touching story and suggestion of using "themes" has caused me to rethink things.

This is much like the new take on things I picked up from Patti Digh and her "reframe it" exercise at the 37 Days Retreat.

I told Patti as we left Bend of Ivy Lodge that I thought of her as a significant person in my life. I could not quite put my finger on why then - now I can. I first read her 37 Days blog in Janaury 2006. I loved the writing, her take on the world and her reverence for serendipty - which I share. I appreciated how she added the links that expanded the world related to the essay. Relatively new to internet and blogging it took me a while to really GET it. My world was expanding wider and wider through those links and connections.

At about the same time I discovered 37 Days I met Nellie. She is the mother of my grand-daughter's best friend. I was fascinated to learn that her job was writing a blog. Imagine getting paid to play with ideas and the computer. I started checking her blog New Persuasion regularly, but the content did not touch me personally.

A few weeks ago Patti wrote on 37 Days that she had been tagged for more information about her - tell me five things I don't know about you. I checked the b log of the woman who tagged her. She had tagged 4 others: Nellie, ___, ____, Patti and _____. Yep, that's the same Nellie I met a year ago.

It knocks me out.

The wide wide world - is really a small world.


Berkeley Surprise

We started out for field trip to explore near-by Berkeley.
Oops, need coffee.
So - - an unscheduled stop at the Whole Foods store on a corner of San Pablo .
I took my camera inside thinking to grab a few still life shots in the store. Not gonna happen. I raised the camera and a woman wearing her Whole Foods apron called out, "sorry maam, you can't take photos here."
"What? Why?"
"You will have to ask the manager." I decided to follow that up. Why no photographs - is this a terrorist target?

I had to wait a few minutes for her to come down from her cat-walk office to speak with me, I assured her I just had a couple of friendly questions.
" I am an artist. I like to take photos of produce and store displays but several people have told me there are rules against photographs. Why?
"Its marketing. We are very particular about our set-ups and proud of them and we protect them from our competitors. I have a friend who is a food photographer and I can't let her take shots in here."

So - nothing personal, except my disappointment. It is a beautiful store. I would have loved to spend some time in there snapping away.

Back in the car I told my daughter about my conversation with the manager - she laughed. "I am not surprised. Did you buy anything? Notice the prices? People call this place, "Whole Pay Check."

Our next stop was a salvage yard - a yard which specializes in vintgage house leavings. My daughter watches home remodeling tv shows and is planning a re-model of her home. I am past that stage and was impatient at having to make this stop.

It was interesting - old windows, doors, claw foot bath tubs, the remnants of a church that had been chopped up - from the communion railing to stained glass windows.

I wandered through aisles of this stuff and had begun to lose interest when I turned a corner.
Metal skates, with ball bearing wheels. I had a pair like these. My skates are long gone and I had not thought about them in years.

Looking at these skates brought back a flood of memories.

I got my first pair of real skates, like these, for Christmas when I was ten years old.
They were my "wheels".

I lived in a neighborhood with sidewalks. With my skates I could go anywhere within my zone - to my grandmother's house a mile away; to the Big Star grocery store; to the Plaza Movie Theater on Saturday morning for the kiddie show. On skates I had a special kind of kid freedom.

The metal skate key was all important. You used it to tighten the toe clamps and to shorten the one-size skates to fit kid-size feet. I put the key onto a long plaid shoe string; then tied the ends together and wore that key necklace around my neck. When I walked the heavy key thuddded against against my chest. I wore it everywhere I went, whether I was skating or not. My key necklace was my badge of independence.

Later I saw two boys on skateboards in the neighborhood. I stood at the kitchen sink watching them glide from side to side of the cul de sac. It looked so graceful, so effortless, so free. I asked ten year old Scotty if he thought I could ride a skateboard.
"yeah, I guess you could - if you can keep your balance, jump the curbs and are crazy enough to try it."

Hmmm! Why bother - especially since they don't have a key.


Tackling BART

We had to pick up another rental car at the Oakland Airport. It was not convenient to get a ride there so we took the BART - that's the San Francisco area subway.

We started in Lafayette - took the train to the MacArthur stop where we got off, walked across the platform to wait for the Fremont train - our connection to the Airport. We got off the Fremont train at the Coliseum stop as we had been instructed.
Rushed down two flights of stairs to the street level to board the orange and blue bus - the Air Bart - to the airport. So far so good. We got off at Terminal One - walked a few blocks and crossed the street, watching two rental car shuttles pass us by because chain link construction fences herded us several extra blocks up the street to a cross-walk. Waited ten minutes for the third rental car shuttle to arrive. It took us to the off site rental car pick up center.

It was not hard. We had clear directions.

It took one hour and forty minutes and we paid 10.00 for two 5.00 tickets - one-way to the airport.

Lessons learned:

The person who gave us the directions is not a senior and forgot to factor in the dollar benefits we reap because we are -- so we paid full fare for the tickets and added 2.00 for the bus which is just 50 cents for seniors.

If we ever do this when catching a plane we will be leaving our daughter's home five hours before plane time and only carrying a backpack.

And, most importantly, the adventure reminded us that riding public transportation gives you a real view of the diversity of a city and affirms that strangers can be friendly and helpful.


California Holidays Begin

We flew Jetblue to Oakland today to spend time with our daughter and her family for the holidays.


Caught Writing In My Book

"odd wasn't it, that the crispest memories were of aberrations." (Mirror, Mirror, Gregory Maguire, page 163.)
I was caught off guard by how true that is - so I took out my pen and underlined the sentence - to make sure I would remember it or at least could find it again.

A woman sitting next to me on the couch, also waiting to have her hair cut, saw me do it.

She waited a few minutes and then said, "you wrote in your book."

I was startled. "yes, I did. But, its ok."

She looked puzzled so I blundered on. " I own the book."

That was not enough. She did not look either satisfied or forgiving. She looked at me - like a librarian - - so I added, "I mean its not a library book."


I knew she would tell people.


Christmas 1957

During the Christmas Season I glimpse many Christmases of the past.

Christmas 1957. Jim and I lived on Argyle Road in Brooklyn, NY where Jim was an intern at Kings County Hospital. This was our first Christmas without any family around. Jimmy was 13 months old. Christmas morning was exciting for him; so many packages to open.

Here Jimmy discovers the surprise of a Jack-in-the-box.


Mix-ed Up Mail Delivery

Ever had a day that felt like this?

I am, more than I like to admit.

Whenever I have nothing to write I put in a picture and hope it will

inspire me

remind me

prompt me

or whatever.

Sometimes it works.