Viral Gratitude ~ 4.21.20

Let Chaos Be

A palimpsest on Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon

(Palimpsest: a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been expunged to make room for later writing but of which traces remain; using the bones of the original writing as the basis and springboard for the new piece).

In this version, I slightly altered my original palimpsest/poem to align more with current events:

Let Chaos Be

Let tongues wag 140
characters on Twitter feeds,
#hashtag words rife   knife.


Let emotions loose
like mice in a field with summer
on their feet. Let chaos be.


Let red and blue placards sprout
from neighbors’ lawns. Let fake news
rupture the resounding silence. 


Let traffic halt. Let deer graze.
Let great trees fall apart.
Let chaos be.


To the microphones on podiums,
to science debates, to viral statistics
let chaos be.


Let it be, as it explodes. Fear not.
The pandemic is here to correct
our naiveté, so let chaos be.





Viral Gratitude ~ 4.20.20

A bouquet is defined as an arrangement of flowers. Often given as a gift or carried by a bride on her wedding day, a bouquet has come to signify thoughtfulness and beauty in one form or another. Bouquets tender our souls and our spirit and come in all forms and sizes. I would suggest that bouquets also come in any form of kindness or tenderness when flowers are unavailable. 

Yesterday, and on other days when completely isolated, I received phone calls from friends just at the right time when I needed some comfort. Their voices carried caring, solace and laughter—bouquets of kindness. I would posit that holding a hand, hugs, smiles, a soft or strong shoulder, a listening ear, and withholding judgement to name a few are also gifts of bouquets during difficult times. 

Last night I received via text, a photo of a few wood violets with the words: “This reminded me of you.” A very simple and thoughtful bouquet that lifted my spirit and quelled loneliness.

There are heroes on the front lines in hospitals and behind cash registers in grocery stores and others delivering mail etc. who are deservedly getting accolades and attention for their service and sense of responsibility. However, it’s easy to forget at such a dramatic and chaotic time, that small bouquets of concern and virtual hand-holding can and do ripple into rivers of kindness and grace for all.

Viral Gratitude ~ 4.19.20

Looking at my calendar, (an old fashion desk calendar with photos and sayings), there are many events cancelled—my 50th high school reunion is a big one that was supposed to come up this month. It’s been moved to October. Birthdays and anniversaries are acknowledged, albeit in a more subdued manner; a book club meeting lost in space and sundry other to-be occasions never even recorded. However, I find myself marking in the (mostly) little stuff like COVID-19 isolation begins; my last food shopping trip; tree smashes car; Lucy calls to check in with me; Barbara texts hello; Carol from Maine and I reconnect and chat. Last I spoke to her and saw her was on a serene lake in Maine three almost four years ago; Mary is sending videos of groundbreaking but never acknowledged female artists; and Roger from grammar school posts a video of a virtual road ride through Branch Brook Park showcasing its Cherry Tree blossoms in all their splendor—all the more magnificent due to the road minus tourist traffic. This Sunday park drive brought to the forefront shared childhood memories and reacquaintance. Rather small recordings in our pre-pandemic world, yet significant post-pandemic and isolating in place. Also recorded: my first Zoom meeting with a bunch of right-brain fun and creative artists of a certain age trying on the look of “computer-savy;” my first self-haircut along with a tornado watch and sad passings of friends’ loved ones. All in a three week period that feels like a lifetime. Time is fluid now.

I want to remember the significant insignificant details which usually float into the ether except for this journaling and some Facebook posts. Life is in the details and paying attention takes time and silence. For these moments of remembrance and connection—I am grateful.

Cherry Blossom Fog

Viral Gratitude ~ 4.18.20

Sad news abounds. Death is close and remote at the same time. I now know of three deaths of the siblings of friends. There will be more. Communities grieve for the larger loss. Handshakes and hugs are bygone. Tears flow, and for this I am grateful. When Death and its companion Grief, visit—I turn to the wisdom and sage counsel of poets and prophets. Kahlil Gibran is always a comfort. His healing words from The Prophet::

“Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.

“And he said:

“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun?

“And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its relentless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? 

“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

“And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb.

“And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”


Gibran is asking us to understand this both metaphorically which applies to life and physically for those called to death. 

Viral Gratitude ~ 4/17/20

I believe that the sentiment, “Life is too short to drink cheap wine” is a familiar one. I totally agree with its intention (whenever possible) and also with the corollary that decent wine does not have to be expensive to be enjoyed either. On that note, I have come to add a maxim of my own: “Life is too short to drink chamomile tea instead of something else.” Try as I may for an adult lifetime and more discards of half-finished cups than I am comfortable to admitting—I just don’t like the taste or get enough satisfaction out of it to appreciate its value. It’s possible that packaged chamomile tea has been crapified down too much into “good for you” marketing limpid bags. My grandmother used to brew real chamomile flowers into tea as a tonic for her children. Perhaps the real stuff is worth working with, however all the “sleepytime” marketing and promises just don’t pass muster for me. And the shame of it is that I love the word chamomile and will have to use it henceforth only in poetry or prose. I usually have a cuppa tea next to the computer as I write this around 3:00 AM nightly. Chamomile has been my go-to decaffeinated choice for its calming attributes.

This pandemic has taught me a lot about self-care: with true self-care, comfort and pleasure sometimes outweigh the promise or premise of (puportedly) healthier and healing. In other words, during a pandemic, comfort takes on its own healing modality. We all must judge this for ourselves, and unbridled hedonism does not eclipse healthy choices. Harmony of the two should not be overrated at this juncture.

So it is with some sadness and disappointment that I bid adieu to any more middle-of-the-night cups of chamomile, and while I’m at it, so too rose-hip tea. It is with great pleasure on the other hand, that I welcome back black pekoe (decaffeinated) into my swinging night life. I feel better already.


new haircut same face no more chamomile tea

Viral Gratitude ~ 4.14.20

Yesterday was a rather rough day. I learned that the insurance adjuster totaled my car, while watching out all morning for two workers from our internet provider who worked on restoring wifi and climbed poles during a tornado watch and torrential rains. My everlasting gratitude for their dedication and perseverance despite a tension headache that escalated with each weather report. I had to escort them in and out of the gated nursery (about 500′) to the phone box on the outside of the building (actually an old three-room chicken coop that served as the nursery sales and work rooms in better times). I had to change out of three pairs of soaked jeans.

So I turned as I usually due to cooking and chopping while responding to and monitoring the men on the telephone poles, talking to the insurance representatives and a car dealer. I managed to make an old rustic Italian favorite—pasta fagoli or pasta and with ceci  (chickpeas) in a garlicy tomato and basil broth. 

When the tornado warnings became more localized, I decide to attack the flourless chocolate cake in my refrigerator that I did not get to eat for Easter dessert due to other circumstances beyond my control. And as a “friend” reminded me—I would have a much greater chance of staying grounded in a tornado if I was that much heavier. I also wanted my last meal (if indeed the case) to include pasta and finish with velvety chocolate. 

Luckily for me, I am still here to share today’s blog, heavier but happier that I decided to live in the moment and screw the extra calories. 


chocolate on my tongue bittersweet

Viral gratitude ~ 4.13.20

When you cannot control the larger picture around you—time to work on what you can control. There is an ongoing pandemic, tornado warnings and wind shears, power and wifi outages to name a few of the annoying circumstances beyond one’s immediate control in our area.

So after twenty-seven and one-half days of isolation and longer since I last got my hair trimmed—and due to above said disorderly state of affairs, I decided to take matters into my own hands and give myself a haircut. Since I have worked as a nurserywoman/farmer for forty-plus years, I figured that I could apply the same principles to hair cutting as shrub pruning. Go in at odd angles and thin rather than shear straight across. Aim your shears toward your ears rather than horizontal with the ground. I did it while my hair was dry. I would recommend cutting locks while wet. It would be much easier cleanup. I was still ingesting some stay strands with snacks a little later on. That being said, I believe I did a decent job and scared no one on Zoom yesterday.  Who knew that pruning techniques could be used successfully on coiffures. I doubt that I will be called to cut or style anyone else’s hair, however I am satisfied with my results:

Viral Gratitude ~ 4.12.20

Wind and Wildflowers
not for long
all the doubts
that spindle
on the legs of
a newborn fawn
not for long
rising in the compost
of a late autumn
not for long
the egret’s flight legs
tucked in
to compress its center
of gravity
not for long
the orb-weaver’s
perfect web
bending the morning light
into beads of dew
not for long
an evening that begins
with the brilliance
of one star
long gone
not for long
the dance
of heat lightning
on the meadow’s
queen anne’s lace
not for long
the darkness
between the kindle
of a firefly’s
not for long
lost stories
of the wind
and wildflowers
in my heart
ag ~ June 2013

Viral Gratitude ~ 4.11.20

Life loves to throw curveballs. You prepare for one contingency and out of left field comes another. We are dealing with a viral pandemic and yet yesterday, a gust of wind whips through the yard and fells a large tree. It takes down the power and phone lines, misses the roof and resounds with a loud bang onto the rear of my car. The next thing I hear are chainsaws and trucks—six in all on my driveway with a crew of 12 men climbing poles and splicing wires while cutting through the tree trunk with a diameter of 2-2.5 ft. Within the next twenty-four hours, I helped pick up brush, logs and branches and loaded them onto a large rack-body truck for disposal at our recycling center, dealt with the power and phone companies, insurance adjusters, an auto body shop and more of the same all over again. I learned how to use the insurance company app to take photos of my vehicle identification number (vin), and damage from multiple angles and upload photos of the tree basically hugging my car. I spoke to representatives of said companies from all over the country while we are isolated in our homes. Everyone is especially pleasant and efficient. It’s all a bit surreal. The wind is still blowing 20-30 mph as I sit here (a day later and body-sore) at my computer while sipping a bourbon Manhattan on ice with a slice of bitter orange and still waiting for the phone company to show up (now over twenty-four hours). 

The good news for which I am grateful:

The tree did not hit the roof or me.

Power was restored within four hours.

Cable came back on with power.

A dear friend showed up after a hard day’s work to help me untangle the mess in my driveway.

There was enough daylight until the last half hour for the work to be moving.

All workers were courteous, empathetic and conversing at a safe distance. 

The only real damage was to property which can be replaced.

I can borrow a company car in the meantime, and in the meantime requires very little driving during a pandemic of isolating in place.

My car is in good and capable repair hands.

The bitter orange in my drink is refreshing.

~ ~ ~

Sadly, I miss the felled tree which supported a birdhouse and a knothole perch for squirrels.

I am sorry for my car. Her name is “Tita,” short for her color titanium. She is at the auto-body shop and grossly disfigured—possibly totaled. I may never drive her again. I bond with all my vehicles. We usually span a decade of road rides together for better or for worse. Tita is only four years old.

As I’ve been saying—life is about flexibility and change. Had this happened during “normal circumstances”—I may have felt a bit more sorry for myself, however compared to the loss of life and health—this is nothing–albeit an expensive nothing. I choose to live among trees, and this hardship is but a small emotional price to pay. The beauty and health trees afford far outweigh any handicaps.

A true gift also came with this calamity. I went out after dark to sit with the tree and my car and ground/settle just a bit—it had been a difficult day. Near the sliced tree trunk, I found a piece of hardwood, in the shape of a heart–a sign for me that love flows through everything—even calamity. For this I am forever grateful.