Sunday, January 31, 2010


Nothing is better than having my hair shampooed at a salon. Hands down, it is one of my guilty pleasures up there with peanut M&Ms and gloppy BLTs ... and well, you know! I look forward with eager anticipation to my monthly visits for reshaping my tresses. Recurring scheduled appointments made way in advance. Reserved on my calendar a quarter at a time. The village salon over the yoga studio and mariner insurance agency where I am coiffed like Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion and friends in the Emerald City. A buff-buff here. A buff-buff there. Crazy, right? Not to me.

Popping out of the car I focus only on the relaxation awaiting at the top of the wide wooden stairs. Poor (wo)man's therapy. My muscles uncoil, my breathing relaxes. A shimmery cape is draped over my shoulders and the narrow towel of soft cottony terry cloth loops tucked elegantly like a silk Hermes scarf at my nape. Drifting I lean back into the porcelain sink. My head rests gently on the foam pillow in the curvature of the bowl my neck fitting comfortably. Eyes close. Ah. Warm spray sudses the shampoo into billowy lather. My scalp tingles with the gentle pressure of shampoo being massaged into my thick chestnut hair. Stress streams with random to-do lists into the soapy water swirling to the drain at the bottom of the black porcelain sink and out through pipes to nowhere. Blissful! What's not to love?

Transition to a very hot, humid and way too polluted day in Beijing last summer. Which parenthetically trumps LA brown auto-emissions smog in the 1970s and coal black Pittsburgh steely haze before the Golden Triangle was developed. Filthy air. I am so not sure how the Summer Olympians were able to breathe much less perform their personal best. The sun might be shining brightly but who the hell would know it? Nary a blue sky on the horizon. Ooops. Off point. Way. Back to hair.

Beijing's intense July heat, oppressive humidity and off-the-chart pollution have taken root in each of my too-many-gazillion strands, soaking deep into the follicles. My hair a dirty, swollen tangle. My very own Forbidden City and Birds Nest gnarled into one. I needed a professional shampoo. Badly. A much deserved hour luxuriating in an Asian salon where deep tissue massage is an artform inspirational.

Raffles, my elegant and storied 19th century five star hotel booked months before on deeply discounted (surely the result of a precipitous decline in Western tourists post-Olympics and threats of arbitrary mandatory H1N1 quarantines for foreign travelers arriving at airports with muscle aches or elevated temps) boasted a sumptuous salon and spa where a humdrum hair washing would break the bank. My bank. Ever the adventurer, I sought out a beauty shop catering to locals. The closest on nearby Wang Fu Jing Street -- a not-so-stylish pedestrian mall where sidewalk vendors hawked Pier One exports and pushcarts offered scorpion satays and melamine-tainted ice cream. A red, white and blue striped barber pole marked its entrance. The 25 yuan ($3.65) price tag lured me inside.

Every head in the grey walled, hair dryer-dome filled room spun when I pushed open the revolving glass door. Smiling, I presented the note penned in Mandarin by a giggling Raffles' concierge: "Hair wash only. No scissors, please." I was handed a number and pointed to the row of seats not unlike the waiting room of a bus station. Nodding, I took a vacant chair among chattering ladies looking curiously my way. I kept smiling. Looking around. Taking it all in.

I felt a nudge on my arm. The customer seated across from me with wet hair wrapped in a turban signaled to the petite lady standing in the doorway to the salon. My three-digit number had been called. I was the next patron. I motioned a thumbs up indicating my understanding to the ladies now staring at my every move. Grabbing my purse, I followed the attendant inside to another row of chairs in front of a mirror running the length of the room. No shelves for tools of the trade. No fancy swiveling salon seats with lifts. Just four-legged straight backed chairs. Curious, I sat and faced my reflection in the looking glass.

A slippery cape and a hand towel were causally tossed over my shoulders. Shampoo was drizzled on my head, then warmish water squirted from a clear plastic ketchup bottle and my hair was lathered it into a frothy heap. No sink. No sprayer. No serenity. I expected more from the Chinese. Where was my Oriental head massage?

The rest of the process was similar. Redundant actually. The bus terminal seats. A tap on my arm when my number was announced. A neighboring client motioning me to follow the attendant to the next step. And the next. Smiles and thumbs up from me at each juncture. Giggles from them.

I relaxed. Nary a scissors in sight. No wire curlers the size of D batteries. And to my delight, no helmet spewing a hot dry blast from an ancient row of hair dryers. My stylist deftly blowdrying my thick hair into the ubiquitous page-boy. Close enough. I smiled. Paid at the front desk and pushed open the revolving doors and ventured out into the bright noontime sun. Turned to my left and strolled nonchalantly along busy Wang Fu Jing back to my shi-shi hotel. Hair clean, coiffed and shiny. Thumbs up.

With a flip of my hair ... cheers until tomorrow.

Drives to nowhere ...

Sometimes it just feels good, great even, to join a dear friend on a drive into the country, or up the coast, or into the city. It just feels good. To get in the passenger side of a well-waxed forest green classic automobile and slide deep into the leather seats knowing that the adventure is not in the destination, but in the journey.

This afternoon was one of those days. A crisp clear January day where the air is so cold and dry that the edges of every naked branch on winter-bare trees stands sharply against the azure sky. One of those rides. Destination unknown and of little consequence. Maps stowed in behind-the-seat pockets. A full tank. Minimal amounts of cash. Sunglasses. Nothing else needed. No baggage. Well, not much anyway!

Time stretches before us like an open road. The nose of the car points north then east then on the back roads past charming antique farmhouses, rolling fields and the ubiquitous neighborhood with mobile homes converted into ranch housing. The sea air luring us toward the shore. Cruising down rural highways traveled before ... and to be visited anew. Peaceful and alluring when snow covered. More colorful and vibrant in the sweet heady days of summer.

Deep in thought one moment. Spirited conversation the next. Familiar and comfortable, yet thrilling in an unpredictable way. These rides to nowhere. Nothing is everything somehow. Nothing can be just that. Nothing. But not today.

Cheers to no maps! No preconceived destination. That can wait until tomorrow ... or the day after.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Losses of innocence

So sad. Earlier this week, Howard Zinn suffered a fatal heart attack at 87 while swimming on vacation. Alive, vibrant living life fully. The very next day J.D. Salinger passed away quietly at his home in New Hampshire where he had fiercely guarded his privacy for more than fifty years. Each touched my soul immeasurably. Captured my imagination. Fueled my passion. Influenced my coming of age. Essential rites of passage leading to the adult me. Each uniquely. Both profoundly. Je pense, donc je suis.

Touchstones for a generation. My generation. Born into a robust postwar economy where daddies emboldened by heroism and valor streamed into their downtown offices in matching grey flannel suits and felt dress hats so our mommies could swirl effortlessly in petticoat buoyed finery with tiny waistlines homemaking in brand spanking new General Electric kitchens whipping up fruity Jell-o salads, picture perfect roasts and Manhattans. Our suburban Betty Crocker-DepressionBaby parents. Life was good. Homogeneous. With the flow. Marching in lock-step with other eager beavers and members of the peanut gallery, we rode merry-go-rounds in the park, watched nascent TV and were told to be seen but not heard.

1951 gave birth to cool daddy-o's, Holden Caufield and me.

Ha! The times they were a-changing. Struggles of self and culture were celebrated in Greenwich Village smoke filled coffee houses by twenty-something Ginsburg and Kerouac anticonformists. Poetry and black turtleneck thinkers born between the wars too young to join in. Avant garde older soul-siblings to my Woodstock generation who still toddled around grassy white fenced yards in Levittown development clones all over the country.

It is of no surprise that Mr. Salinger stuck a nerve with Cold War America's burgeoning adolescence in his opening sentence. He immediately dismissed insights into his childhood as a bunch of crap. Zing. Grabbed growing alienation of the adult world by the balls. Captured our imagination and imprinted upon us a cynicism "away from any goddam stupid conversation". Influential for sixty years and counting, Salinger embodied an enviable aloofness inspiring Bright Lights, Big City and Sex in the City wannabes in the 1980s and 90s. We all yearn to be catchers in the rye. I know I did.

Twenty years later Boston was abuzz with student protests, LSD and long hair when I transferred to BU in 1971. ROTC thrown off campus and the student union known simply as the Union. Populist weekend hippie students from affluent northeastern families poured into Bean Town every September. Down by the river, by the banks of the river Charles, sex, drugs, rock & roll ... and politics ignited the college scene.

Enter Howard Zinn. My academic advisor. Our guru. Our compatriot at sit-ins. Comrade at peace demonstrations on the Commons. His words impassioned and energizing pulling us in. Whose over-subscribed, non-required classrooms burst at the seams. Except when he went to Hanoi during the Tet Offensive with Daniel Berrigan to 'receive' the first POWs released by the North Vietnamese. Irony, indeed. Professor Zinn, a bombardier in WWII, dropped Napalm on unsuspecting German soldiers in hiding. It changed his way of thinking. He changed ours. Civil liberties. Radical Critique of the American Political Economy. The People's History of the United States. Compassionate analysis from all stakeholders. Over, under and around the box. We drew our grades out of a hat!

RIP gentlemen. Raise high the roof beam, carpenter, you just cannot be neutral on a moving train.

Tears until tomorrow ...

Rounding the 1st bend

Nothing jump-starts a diet like a stomach virus hurling me to the first 5 pound benchmark. Limp as a noodle. Green tinged. Tired as a puppy dog. Resembling Max, the dimpled scarecrow, on my mother's back porch splotched with mildew. Finally, dear readers, I am on my way. Two-thirds from the goal line.

This is not earth shattering. Nano-significance. Infinitesimal. The teeniest of blips in a global perspective. The world outside my front door. The multi-zillion dollar diet biz lures me with its infomercials hawking tummy trimmers, yoga boot camp videos, low fat, low sugar, low carb. Sensory overload. I yo-yo all over the place, hemming and hawing before it 'clicks' and a diet is born. Weight Watchers calls it a lifestyle. But nowhere, and I mean nowhere, is ingesting 19 points (roughly 1000 calories) and imbibing up to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day, a lifestyle I can get my not quite toned upper arms around. Nope. Not by a long shot. Raised in the land of cheesy grits, country ham and biscuits smothered in honey and butter there will be relapses a plenty. TaB and carrots just ain't gonna do it.

Last night it flew into gear. We -- me on the floor of the upstairs bathroom in my disheveled grey cashmere robe and white nightgown shivering with fever ashen white facing the potty ... and ... President Obama on the floor of the house chambers decked in red, white and blue his skin glowing honey emboldened before stone-faced justices, silent military brass and a contentious Congress -- regurgitated a bit of the excesses from the prior year. Shaky beginnings. Unkept promises. Renewed accountability.

Live in the moment. Lay the foundation for the future. Throw hermit ways of deep, cold, icy January into reverse. Slip into jeans less tight. Get out there. Interact with world. Fill up the calendar. Find the light inside and share it unabashedly. Stop being so serious and live a little. Lighten up. Literally.

“But we can’t stop here.” “Let’s get it done” “Let’s seize this moment.” Mr. Obama cheered nearing the end of his ninety minutes laying out what we as a nation must do in 2010. The chamber erupted in applause. Standing ovation. Republicans tried to be glued to their leather seats, but the pull of the rhetoric proved too strong and they rose to its cadences. At least at that moment, on a bitter January day in our country's imposing capitol, they didn’t have a chance. Neither do I. Carpe diem!

Cheers! To the next five melting away. And the next. It won't be tomorrow.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Soul Sisters

My darling friend, Gayla, and I were catching up today. A post happy new years call. She is in Oklahoma, where they are expecting an ice storm. I am in Maine where the temps will reach the high 40s this afternoon. Laughing and huffing (one of us on the treadmill or outdoors walking) we zigzag across conversations with the glide of a figure skater. Picking up where we left off, even if months (or in one case years) since our prior conversation.

We met in the mid-nineties when our sons were 8, classmates and only children. Charlie and I had just relocated to the edge of the prairie. It was mid-year, just after the holidays. Third grade. Every afternoon I'd drive from Edmond to Nichols Hills to wait in the carpool line for my Charlie to stream out with his classmates. I usually parked. Wandered up to the lower school entrance where other mothers waited, milled about deep in gossip, plans for the weekend, whatever.

Most had known each other forever. Oklahoma-forever that is. Their grandparents migrating to Indian Territory in the late 1800s or turn of the 19th century. Homesteaders in the land rush. Or sons and daughters of wildcatters and oil barons. Each knew the words to their state song. I was the new girl. I only knew the chorus:. O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A OK! An easterner with a southern accent. A carpetbagger. The moms would look over at me, smile politely and then turned back to each other and their discussions. I smiled back.

One caught my eye. She and her sister were inseparable. Both with dark chestnut hair like mine. And as thick. I knew immediately that I wanted into their inner circle. Sisters thick as thieves. Bestest of friends. Animated and energetic. I missed that. Sisters. Mine were flung far and wide. One in Kentucky, the other in the Boston area. Gayla was right here. Everyday.

In late May, end of school year swim party, she came up to me and introduced herself. For real. Invited me to lunch. I was elated. I don't remember exactly, but soon we were deep in friendship. Sisters. Not by blood. Kindred spirits.

We now live 1000s of miles apart. I miss her, but know that even though birthdays are often missed and life events not always shared we always pick up exactly where we left off. For that I am grateful.

Cheers, sweet Gayla! Cosmopolitans clinking. Until Tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last Tango in Portsmouth

Yep. Despite a faltering sense of self and feelings of dubious judgment, I did it. Grabbed my 3 inch strappy never-worn black satin Salsa big girl shoes with the suede soles and bravely signed up for beginning tango lessons at the Portsmouth Ballroom. $50 for four weeks. Friday nights. The consummate answer for transforming my humdrum sexless-in-the-noncity life into one filled with romance, passion ... and if I am lucky ... an uninhibited, sexy me in one month's time. Daring? A no brainer.

The tango. Ah, a barroom dance, an open embrace, negotiated delicately between a testosterone fueled gaucho and a bawdy putain. For a price. A moment. The night. A steamy conversation passionately played out in a crowded milonga. Ankles brush lightly. Knees graze as her calf flicks quickly between her partner's stance and her foot sweeps the floor. Sultry. The tantalizing Latin beat of Astor Piazzolla playing soulfully on his bandoneon, violin-like strains drifting across the smoky room. I was so there.

The October day finally arrived for my first class which would transport me to Buenos Aires on the Rio de la Plata albeit on the Pisquataqua River in coastal New Hampshire. Spring in the southern hemisphere. Rebirth. Romance blossoms. Tying back my thick chestnut hair at the nape, I combed the back of my closet for the most low-cut black dress flowing with the asymmetry of an Argentine flag from my New York City days long ago. Slipped black stockings the color of midnight onto freshly shaved legs and carefully applied the crimson Fire and Ice color to pursed lips.

I was jazzed. MapQuest diagrammed the route to my first night of immersion into the passion of South America. Thirty minutes to the Route 1 Bypass just north of the traffic circle. Pedestrian address. My expectations dropped. My verve faltered. Hesitantly I pulled my Volvo into the crowded parking lot maneuvering carefully between the orange construction cones nearly blocking the entrance and the studio. Signs warned not to park in front of the Adult Book store that shared the building or risk towing. Or, I imagine snapshots of my license plate by the local authorities tracking illicit voyeurism at the pleasure palace next door. My enthusiasm wavered. Big time.

Hesitantly, I slid my car into a space near the dumpster and reapplied my lipstick peering nervously into the vanity mirror on the visor. My dancing shoes in the silk drawstring bag on the passenger seat. The picture glass storefront windows of the ballroom revealed too bright lighting. Couples twirled like whirling dervishes. I seriously considered gearing into reverse and hightailing it into the traffic heading back to Maine.

The irony not lost! I never frequent a bar alone, pas moi. Yet I was poised to enter a ballroom on date night solo to learn a dance with passionate intimacy a dialog born from brothels and cowboys. A paradox, indeed.

Fast paced soul searching required! Under-employed with my son in college, $50 would be an extravagance I could ill afford without giving the experience a whirl. And after all, isn't that what I wanted? To spice up my life. Add some adventure. Joie de vivre. Net net, my fear overshadowed. I quickly turned off the idling engine, grabbed my big girl shoes, steeled my nerves and emerged into the crisp evening, channeling Eva Peron.

Inside two classes were being conducted side-by-side on the ballroom floor. Music dueling loudly: big band swing and gypsy tango melodies. A riot of noise. Skirts swirled as fast paced jitterbugging overtook the dance floor. A few of us waited for our Argentine teacher to arrive from Boston. Intimidated as we watched a master tango class in a studio off to the side rehearsing a well-orchestrated number with Dancing with the Stars precision and talent. Daunting.

Imagine my surprise. Four of us had registered for this beginning class. Three women and one man. The man, a slight Taiwanese ex-pat, zeroed in on me in his barely over five foot glory. At least I would be paired with a male partner. However, I am 5'6" teetering on 3 inch heels. You do the math. Seventh grade cotillion all over again. And this was not the worst part. The tango is a chest-to-chest carefully choreographed dialog, the woman gazing fiercely at her partner's heart. Instead, Chou stared at my decolletage. Where was my six foot tall, dark and ruggedly handsome partner? My bubble bursting into a thousand fragments like the light refracting off the silver mirror ball hanging in the center of the room.

For each of the next three weeks I wore black slacks, ballet flats and a turtleneck. The tantalizing and sultry tango not quite coursing a passionate exchange between my partner and me.

I have earned a do-over. This spring in earnest. But first I will ensure that there are more men, and taller ones, in my class. Even if I have to drive ninety minutes to a milonga in Boston. Or better still - spend a weekend in Buenos Aires sipping Malbec and dining on beef tournedos from the ranchos outside of town before gracefully negotiating an evening of passion uninhibited in a blue smoky barroom filled with the vagaries of the night.

Don't cry for me Argentina! You are on my itinerary. Cheers!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Torrential downpour out there. Wet, wet, wet. And windy. One to three inches forecast. 50 MPH gusts. Rain pelts the windows noisily. Rivulets stream across the cellar floor, bubbling up through cracks in the porous 160 year old foundation. Both sump pumps work overtime, sucking up the flow. Not unlike my musings. Where's a WetVac when you need one?

Self-indulgent, really. These words of mine. Spilling forth. Drip, drip, dripping incessantly. Puddling ankle deep. Sloppy. Water squishing between sockless toes. Rubber soles squeaking annoyingly as I banter about in my LL Bean duck shoes pontificating. A slippery slope.

Apologies, treasured readers. Monsoon season here. Hip waders required. Umbrella vendors out of nowhere hawk embarrassingly cheap wares in colors that defy the spectrum. Five dollars. Worth 50 cents. Buy one anyway. Stay with me while I journey on. Promise there's a pot of gold at the rainbow's end. Doubloons for all.

Cheers! To the leprechaun, green olives ... and tomorrow's sun.

Independence Pass

Eight of Swords: I know. I promised not to keep doing this. Sharing my daily Tarot readings as if they actually influence me. Or worse, impact my planning. But this one ring's true. The truest yet. Not about my fortune, or lack thereof, but about me. What makes me, me. And it is scary. Dead balls accurate. A knife (or rather swords ... eight of them) into my core.

You are too independent and others feel they cannot get close to you. People feel they bring nothing to your life and do not understand why you would want them around. Too focused on one's own goals. Feeling of freedom, but also have not formed ties. You come across as though no one could ever fool you. A little full of yourself.

So okay. Today's card nails it. Pulls the curtain away from the wizard. Reveals my Achilles heel. Anti-dependence. My wall. Six bricks thick constructed high protecting me from what? I truly cannot remember. Disappointment? Failure? Being told what to do? How to do it? No one paying attention? Having to compromise too much? Losing myself? Or, have circumstances over the past two decades (yikes ... my 40s and 50s) required my every attention to detail, total self-reliance and full immersion into the independence required? And, my Aquarius self relishes?

Now what am I going to do about it? This is tough. The toughest for me to wrap my head and heart around. But the one I need to scale in order to proceed directly to GO so I can collect that $200. Must tackle this one. Grapple it to the ground. Own it. Absorb it. Let it wash over me.

My up-to-the-moment mantra: Let others in. Really in. Find my 'go to' person. Tour, not guide. Allow my fates to float on the wind. Give them loft.

I have known this always. Just reluctant to let go. To depend. Not co-depend. Just be able to rely on a trusted friend. A love. Without holding back. Let myself fall from the table top into the arms of my allies. To trust. That is the kernel. The epicenter. I need to be able to trust again. To let the wrecking ball slam into the wall breaking it apart, brick by brick.

A Chinese proverb states boldly the teacher will come when the student is ready. I am ready.

Tomorrow ... yes ... tomorrow. Cheers!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Campaign Chests and Steamer Trunks

Channeling my grandmothers, for unique reasons, casts brilliant insights as to why no matter where I am visiting, the length of the journey, the season or how many items I remove before zipping ... my bags are both stunning and heavy. And, I want to lighten up. A conundrum, indeed.

Rosie, an adventurer and connoisseur of all things fine - English and American antiques, couturier and classic ladies clothing, Oushaks from Turkey and the finest Italian leather hand picked during her travels abroad - targeted to the carriage trade and instilled within me a love for collecting, a discerning eye and wanderlust.

Grandma Alice, on the other hand, was a most graceful time traveler refined and elegant, purchasing only the finest garments of cashmere and silk, stunning sleek automobiles, luggage from Paris befitting her genteel lifestyle in LaLa Land. Her cucumber and watercress sandwiches and artfully arranged crudites adorned with citrus and avocado slices from the trees in her Hancock Park garden. She inspires my dinner parties still.

So it comes to me naturally. A 1950s child twirling at birthday parties and holiday festivities in patent leather Capezio mary janes with pearl buttons closing the strap delicately across the top of my instep in layers of petticoats puffing hand-smocked dresses embroidery skillfully applied by the ladies of Madeira. Best & Company finery. Caroline and John-John had nothing on Billy and Bobbie's precious brood promenading to celebrations and parties wearing boiled wool chesterfield coats in pastel hues trimmed in velvet. Frame by frame memorialized by the Super 8 my father always seemed to have at the ready. Kodak moments from my prior life.

In the early sixties before sex and drugs and rock & roll shook us by the core and stripped our closets bare leaving only Swedish clogs and Landlubber jeans hanging on the satin hangars of our childhood, we were outfitted twice a year at Town & Country, Grandmother Rosie's classic shop for the 'horse crowd' in Lexington, Kentucky. My beautiful mother in Bonnie Cashin and Dior, her daughters in Lanz, Ladybug and Villagers. Headbands holding back silky long hair matching knee socks with heather wool sweaters and skirts. Etienne Aigner straw creels and Lily of Pulitzer shifts poured out of French armoires and pine etageres and into our Florida-bound suitcases every spring.

Yes. The die was cast. No way I am going to dodge both a penchant for both matching a classically styled French handbags with my crocodile shoes AND packing way too many outfits in my luggage.

Oh how I envied Karen Lack who accompanied her husband and me (his banker) to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a weekend jaunt to conduct due diligence and market assessment for the UHF television station he was considering. Arriving at JFK with only a carry-on, Karen somehow managed to fit an entire coterie of wardrobe changes into a bag that could be placed under the seat or in the overhead compartment with room to spare. In it were sophisticated outfits for a casual lunch in the resort's al fresco dining patio, sunning on the beach, meetings with broadcast executives and even tennis attire and a racquet. Mine, all 45 pounds of it, was stowed deep in the underbelly of the 747. And this was decades before attached wheels became de rigeur. Plus, did I mention both a purse and a carry-on?

I was, and still am, hopeless. Nary a porter in sight, I schlep over-packed bags all over the world. Never wearing more than a few pairs of black pants and some lovely tops. The rest? Ballast. The lesson? Apparently unlearned. Need to rethink packing strategy. This is a must for third world travel. A must.

Cheers, darling grandmothers. Until tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Long Island Iced Tea

It's cold out there. Freezing. The wind is whipping swells across the bay. We are ready to board the commuter boat across winter waters to Long Island. Last stop of the line. Farthest island in Casco Bay. And its cold. Really cold. Blustery. Too cold for this fair weather adventurer. Even on a heated covered ferry. But that's where we are heading. Out onto the open Gulf of Maine. In January. My trusty black lab Bailey, my dear friend and me. LL Bean totes filled to the brim with weekend gear and doggy supplies. Banana bread and rosemary scones for our hosts. Salad fixings from the mainland. Nope. No grocery there.

We're not even taking the car. What a hoot. Bailey, the most timid, scared of the noise her own tail makes when it wag slaps the table, dog in New England. In New England for god's sake. Where the ubiquitous bandana clad Labrador bounds over beaches leaping into the air hankering for that errant frisbee sailing on high or a sopping wet tennis ball flailed at top notch speed into the surf skipping like a stone over the frothy waves sliding over the seaweed and kelp. No she is not the loopy, I'll do anything you want me to do retriever of TV ads and saccharine sweet movies.

Opposite. She doesn't give a ball a second glance. Never. Has no idea what to do with it. No over-eager retriever like Bosco and Chance her canine cousins in Massachusetts. Each filling a stretched out jowl with three tennis balls trying to stuff in the fourth. Not my Bailey. My darling rescue dog saved from a kill shelter in Georgia a few summers ago with a belly full of pups. My lab who hates loud noises and sticks and balloons. Bailey is a thinker. Won't step where angels fear to tread. Digs in her heels with an 'I dare you to make me' attitude not befitting a canine companion of the retriever brand. A scaredy cat really. Not one brave or adventuresome bone in her sixty-five pound body. Nary a one.

Bailey is way outside her comfort zone. She may as well be getting ready to board the space shuttle. Begrudgingly tugging at her leash as I coax her ever so slowly across the gang plank onto the boat bound for the out islands. Straining with all her might, the Gentle Leader starts to come unraveled. Wow. She's determined not to board. Her paws gripping the floor like Crazy Glue slinking like a Navy Seal under the bullet fire. Embarrassing. Very. Our bags unbalancing me like a fallen timber slung over one shoulder. Steady there. I need to get her to step over the lip onto the deck. Over the Styx. Treats strewn like Hansel and Gretel milestones along the gangway. C'mon Bailey. You can do it, sweetie.

One step at a time. Terror filled eyes. Hers and mine! She doesn't budge. We are holding up the line. Folks behind us are losing their patience. Hell, I am too. My dear friend swallows a belly laugh. I want to cry! Finally her feet come unglued and she hurls us toward the bench where we collapse in a heap, canvas tote bags littering the aisle. Relax, Bailey. Uncoil. Fold into the scent of the damp ocean air which you love so much. You did it. Phew! Can't believe we have to go through this again tomorrow on the way back! I am drained. Fried. My dear friend reaches into his canvas sack and pulls out a silver toned shaker beads of frost dripping. And two paper cups. I laugh knowingly. Our adventure has begun.

Come to me martini ... dry with three olives. Up. Cheers! Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Birthday celebrations and anniversaries remembered

She sat reading, sleepily propped up in her bed cozy with rose covered boudoir pillows and down. It was late at night. Too late really. Captivated by the historic fiction she adores the pages flip slowly as the story unfolds. She stays up too late and misses half the next day slumbering. But this is her way. Especially now. Her time of solitude when TVs are off and the phones have been quieted. Alone time stolen from a zillion years ago in another lifetime actually when her brood of four slept quickly tucked into childhood slumber. The night shorter then somehow.

The January sky of deep navy velvet punctuated with glittering shines of a thousand diamonds cocoons the Maine night. Just beyond the slightly opened window a round moon casts sharp, twisty shadows of naked trees across snow meadows rolling to the sea. Lost in thought she feels a slight graze on her elbow and absentmindedly flicks off the summer lady bug nowhere to be found. A soft glow shimmers in the corner of her eye over by the chintz covered arm chair draped with her yesterday clothes. A bear hug slowly embraces her 85 year old body warmly, lovingly across a decade of memories lost. Willy has come home to wish our darling mother a happy birthday.

Cheers, sweet brother, visiting from across the clouds ... you are with us until tomorrow's tomorrow's tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You are what you drive

"Meet my demons head on." That's what I say. Confront roadblocks and bumps that detour my well-articulated life. Causus interruptus. Deal with it. Move on. No rear view mirror. Shift into drive. MapQuest the future. Leave the baggage behind.

Even though I don't live in SoCal, I am what I drive. A vintage classic handling the road with the seeming grace of a well-manicured machine. But the curves, my curves, are getting a bit out of control. Need to lighten the load. So more importantly ... I am what I eat. My carburetor needs adjusting. My chassis toned. Must shed 15 pounds. Now. Formerly a sleek Jag XJ, I am morphing into a Mercedes D class. The dictator model. Lenin gave one to Mrs. Mao. A rich people's car for the dowager wife of the people's chair. Parked still in the hutong in front of the Red Capitol Club in Beijing, rusting. Its matronly silhouette framed by the shuttered front hiding the sparkle inside. This needs to stop. Even if the sparkle inside is dimmed during the process.

So starting to today, in earnest, I will (read: WILL) follow Weight Watchers point-counting-carb-watching plan, drink water until my eyes turn yellow and boogy in the basement to the yoga booty ballet DVD until the caboose comes loose. And, and this is the big one, I'll keep myself honest by posting the decrease in increments of 5 pounds ... or gains. Promise.

Cheers (she said lifting a diet ginger ale filled martini glass no olives) to my chassis redefined ... until tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Elmer's Glue, Sticky Tape and Paper Clips

We're amalgamations. Papier mache figures. Overlapping scraps of newsprint, delicate silk, denim, sand paper, tin foil, candy wrappers, cardboard. Fragments pieced together over a lifetime. A fragile tapestry woven into a crazy quilt. Fabric often stitched hastily into place with bits of yarn, hemp yet the odd strand of gold. Each unique. Us. Humankind. Ageless. Some as fragile as a newborn duckling. Others the tensile strength of wire mesh. Waterproof. Shockproof. Each of us vulnerable. Very. The whole of it threatening to unravel entirely with an arbitrary catch of a frayed thread. A misstep. An unaligned guidepost.

I am no different. My fix-it supplies next to my Barney's bag tool box always within reach. Who knows when those last minute repairs are needed to be stitched into place. Or, the more dramatic rips that compromise the integrity of our entire garment pulling apart seams to reveal our underpants. Our naked selves.

So I am at the ready. Poised to grab the Scotch tape dispenser. Apply a cartoonish bandaid to protect the tear. Ointment to salve the wound. Stapler reattaching the torn fabric. Whatever is needed to pick myself up. Dust off the debris. The accumulated matter torn from my not so rock solid armor. Detritus. And carefully smooth the wrinkles. Stumble until the glue dries the heel back on my big girl shoes teetering on the unbalanced rocks haphazardly littering my path. Catch my balance. Straighten up. Gain some equilibrium. Crown askew. Glasses smudged. A lump in my throat. Bite my lower lip. No one has to know the tricks of the trade or see the wizard behind the curtain. Carry on smiling. Gracefully. Bruises hidden.

How did this happen? When did I get so brave? Who am I protecting? And more importantly why? The sculptors? The performance artists? Les artistes? Each adding their own twist to the composition c'est moi. Is it worth exploring? The past. Deeds done. Ships sailed. Flat tires changed.

After reflecting and ruminating over the years I have decided. I really do not want to go back there. To each glitch. To wonder whether the path chosen was the correct one. What if I had gone to George Washington University and not BU? Should I have gone to that mixer at Amherst after all? Perhaps I should have matriculated at law school despite the glut of associate lawyers in the Boston market and showers/locker rooms at the big firms occupying multiple homogeneous floors of blue-grey offices in the tallest skyscrapers. Deciding in the 11th hour to get an MBA despite not being proficient at interpreting graphs, charts and the ubiquitous stock quotes published daily in the Wall Street Journal. Quitting a lucrative position in a corner office in Manhattan no less to be sole parent to my most amazing son. Hooking up with the devil. Moving and starting anew, over and over.

Roads travelled. Boulders scaled. Flowers sniffed. Illnesses cured. Friends made. Vinegar swallowed. Family loved. I am the accumulation of a lifetime of my unique experiences. I own them. They make me, me. You know? I wouldn't change a thing. Not one thing.

Message to self: Suck it up! Get back on that horse. There's no looking back. I've already been there.

Cheers. Until tomorrow.

Hollywood, My Very Own Tinseltown

What is it about awards shows telecast around the world that catches my imagination? Jazzes my spirits? Quickens my pulse. When my compassion, my passion should be engulfed by the natural disasters claiming lives of untold thousands, uprisings holding infant nations hostage, genocides going unchecked, famines and scourges threatening millions daily. When over-the-air, free network television audiences are at an all time low with 24/7 social networks, Internet surfing, Wii, YouTube, electronic gaming and boredom usurping our time. I am both appalled at my distraction and curious as to my need for a fix of cheesy red carpet glitz delivered to my bedroom on the small screen. Cinderella-induced dreams swirling scarily while half the world suffers. My heart bleeds for the injustice. I should be ashamed.

But, I'm hooked. Not on Extra or TV Guide Network reportings voyeur-style by babes in toyland and 6" heels. Not on the late night talk shows featuring mere mortals groomed (or not) to sell makeup, clothing lines and lifestyles hawking their wares, plugging upcoming films unashamedly. What is it then? What is the spark that ignites the passion of this fifty-something sophisticate, jaded by an unconventional journey my life reflected through slightly smudged lens. Is it the craft? The art of story telling? The process of creativity? The collaborative effort? The structure of the deal? Or, the fairy tale? Whatever the magic ... I watch unabashedly, mesmerized and totally immersed.

The movie biz. It's in my blood. Both branches of the family tree. My maternal great-grandfather, Michael, a true fiddler on the roof forced out of Russia by the pogroms jumped into a passing freight train heading west to avoid conscription into the czar's army. Entered mid-19th century America with nothing but the clothes on his back, determination and imagination. Ending up half-way across the growing country at the 1884 St. Louis Exposition peddling eye glasses from a push cart. A new-fangled moving picture projector caught his fancy. Trading his wares for the crazy contraption he went back to Kentucky married his sweetheart and opened a thriving luncheonette and bakery. Daily after the last sandwich was served, entrepreneurial Michael and Annie turned the bentwood chairs toward the bare white wall, dimmed the lights, served confections and showed silent movies to awestruck patrons. Magical entertainment. Pizzazz. And, action! His picture show houses throughout Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee prospered.

Fast forward a half a century, my elegant Grandma Alice, my dad's glamorous widowed mother, relocated to a 1940s Los Angeles (that's a hard 'g') to an upscale hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. Sound and color had punctuated motion pictures. The industry abuzz. Aglitter. A diversion to the horrors of world war. Distractions. Fripperies. Leading ladies Greta Garbo, Lana Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman had nothing on my gorgeous grandmama. She dated movie moguls resembling Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart. Was ferried around town in her Packard convertible, gold cigarette holder daintily accenting her speech. Smoke rings evaporating into the air. Lunched on Cobb Salads at the Brown Derby. Frequented premiers at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. And, bought peignoir sets for me, her infant granddaughter and namesake at I. Magnin's around the corner from Rodeo Drive. I channel my grandmother. Sadly sans the gorgeous matinee idol leading man ... or the gilded life!

A natural cinema buff, moi. Bona fide. Viewer of over two thousand films. Industry connoisseur. Financier for film and broadcast media projects during the final quarter of the last century. A twentieth century fox. When Hollywood was still ... well ... the 'old' Hollywood. Pre-drag, pre-drugs, pre-TMZ, Idol and 'tweens. HBO a new venture. Cable wiring less than 20% of the country. Three over the air networks. Free TV. Motion picture production companies still run by the fathers of the industry or their proteges. Real honest-to-god movie stars. Back lots. Acres and acres of empty terrain nary a gated community nor high rise apartment-office-shopping mega-complex in sight. Monthly bicoastal jaunts from NYC to LA kept me abreast of emerging trends in 1980s independent programming for screens of all sizes.

You see. The thrill. The magic. Flows through my veins. Is proudly stamped on my DNA. My pulse quickens when the lights fade to dark in a movie house or on a sound stage of flimsily constructed sets befitting a school production but with cameras and sound booms and monitors and ... wow. You get the picture.

Cheers! Credits rolling. Until tomorrow!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Clarity of vision

What is going on today? During my morning toilette, I placed both contact lenses in the same eye. The same one. My left eye. Now you would think that might happen from time to time. No biggie, right? But it never has. Not to me. Not careful, coordinated, lucid me.

Vanity led me straight to the optometrist for contact lenses as soon as my vision declined from 20/20 and I was no longer able to thread a needle without a magnifying glass. Nope. No reading glasses for me. No need to stock up on generic $9.99 grocery store pairs for the kitchen, the drawer in my bedside table, the Volvo, my purse ... never at the place where needed. Got glasses too. Real ones. Bifocals. Top ground to zero. Training glasses for when I was too old and feeble to pop in the contacts. I was 45. Stepped gracefully onto the back nine.

Okay. I admit it. There have been a few early in the morning, eyes-half-shut, mistakes. Just the obvious ones. Unwittingly opening two brand new packets for the same eye, breaking the seal and wondering how to keep the redundant lens fresh for two weeks. Or more to the point: not losing it. And more than a few times, I have had to search for, then reapply a slipped lens which had slid into the deepest crevice under my lower lid as I blinked it in place. Not an easy recovery. Nor pretty. Of course, replacing ripped, crinkly lens is a frequent occurrence. But to place both in the same eye? Nope. Never have done that. I am not even sure how it occurred.

You see, the first lens always goes in the right eye. I wet my fingertip with the solution from Walmart and slide the lens out of its case and direct it to my right eye. Aiming dead center. Going cross-eyed in the process. I did that this morning. Or so I thought. So how the hell did I place the one for far-sightedness over my right iris ... and then again, the very same one, on my left eye? Puzzling really. But hey, I did. Then per my routinized method popped the left lens ... the short vision one ... over the other and looked up. Couldn't see a damn thing. Not a thing! Just a blurry greyed out image of myself staring through the looking glass. At me. Grainy. Unfocused.

Fumbling to find my glasses --the Italian tortoise shell frames transforming me into the intellectual Annie Hall I must envision my self to be -- so I can get the semblance of a view. Gently I slide the tip of my left forefinger onto my eyeball and slip the first contact off. Then the other. This deft maneuver took months of steely nerves to successfully and willingly poke myself in the eyes two times every day. Definitely not for the squeamish. Mastered after nearly a decade and a half.

What then? Early signs of senility? Random mistake? Pirate trainee? Message from the universe? Absentmindedness? Nor ready for the patch, parrot and 'aye matey' remarks from galpals and buddies, hope it an under-lubricated, sticky lens stuck to my finger. Or, perhaps a sign.

That's it. A shout out. A 'hey you' telling me to pay attention. Not to get lost. I get it now. Took a full day ruminating to clearly see. Sharpen the aperture. Mind the gap. Evaluate. Note to self: Observe issues/ideas/solutions from all angles. Peer inside, outside and around the box whether the box is on the shelf ... or not. Now it is clear. Imagine the possibilities.

Cheers! Until tomorrow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nine Lives

My glove apparently has nine lives. The black one with palms of thin kidskin and a lovely wool cable knit on the back. Not one bit warm. But I adore them. Wear them everywhere. With my faux fur trimmed hooded ski parka, my black dress coat, my black wool pea jacket. Love them. Bought them at the Brotherhood late last winter. $75 marked down 70%.

Must have feline ancestry. Or the sheep was dear friends with a barn cat. Wilbur-style. Or, more fitting, Animal Farm anarchy. New Zealand sheep whose woolly topcoats would be shorn by rugged herders sporting Wellies and gorgeous hand-knit sweaters then transported to the shores of Macaw to be dyed and spun into the yarn that would be fashioned into the glove, my gloves, in an overcrowded, smelly, hot factory in South Asia before being packed among dozens and dozens and dozens of its kin to be shipped back in huge containers to the states in time for the holidays. Unsold. Unwanted. Tres cher. This humble, over-looked, tossed-aside pair would find itself in a rattan basket oddly befitting its birth on a lower shelf near the cash register of the outlet store in early March where I would toss them onto the counter along with corduroy slacks for my son. The global travels of my lovely gloves. Seemingly close to mine. Mateless and casually over-looked.

But ah, I digress. Nine lives. I have lost one of these lovely gloves five times and more amazingly found it each time. Once on the brass fence post finial of an 18th century house in the center of the village. Once in the garage near the gas BBQ grill. Once in the parking lot nearly buried in snow melt rows from my parked car. Once on the abandoned beach along the shore where I take my Bailey for windy, winter walks searching for sand dollars. And today on top of the corner mailbox two days after I popped the red entertainment envelope and my electric bill into the slot while chatting with my neighbor. Always the right glove. Obvious reason.

That has never happened before. Or rarely. Finding a lost anything. Normally I lose the mate for good. Hoping it will turn up at the oddest of moments, in the strangest of places. But never. Upstairs my chest of drawers have a special place for unmatched socks. Survivor earrings haphazardly tossed in Grandma Alice's curly maple tea caddy await the discovery of their partner. Languishing really. But safe, loved. Singleton gloves from a prior life piled on the shelf of my downstairs closet, some new with crisp stitching and unworn suede palms, others rag wool from waxing up the skinny boards and heading onto fresh powder of a local golf course long ago, hands warm and cozy. They wait patiently for their mate to reappear at the bottom of a forgotten carton in the basement or hiding in the pocket of a coat unworn. Hopeful. Always in style.

Not this time. My lovely gloves five times found. Rebirth. The journey continues. New places to go. Coats to accessorize. More adventures. Like me.

Cheers ... and warmer hands ... until tomorrow!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Writer's Block

Writer's block.

Blank slate.

My mind has gone numb.


Tomorrow's another day ... cheers!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


My drivers license comes up for renewal in a few weeks. Groundhog's Day. A ritual which generally goes unnoticed every five or so years. Not for me. Since I earned my right to operate a car in 1967, I have registered as a driver in six states. Studied half a dozen manuals. Sat in motor vehicle offices for inordinate amounts of time waiting. That's 50% of the Northeastern states, my childhood home of bluegrass and horses where the flimsy yellow paper license could be altered with write-out and a Smith-Corona and former Southern speak-easys would pour bourbon and branch freely to underage drivers, Maine twice and Oklahoma. A new state to call home every 7 years of my driving life. That's about right. I move a lot. Chapters.

Five or so years into my gigs ... my ol' Kentucky home, a college apartment in Back Bay a block from the Boston Stranglers turf, a six-room second floor double-decker apartment in Cambridge near the lofty Victorians and yellow clapboard houses of intellectual power-brokers, a Carnegie Hill co-op in Manhattan a block from Central Park and two from Harlem, a garden home on the edge of the prairie scarily perched on a concrete slab guaranteed to fly skyward by a mighty twister and my lovely 160 year old expanded cape in my New England village and so on ... I start to itch. The familiar feeling wells up inside and my pulse quickens as I begin to imagine the possibilities. Fueled by wanderlust? Ennui? Lack of obligations? Unrequited dreams?

Yikes! Regardless of where I slip between the sheets at night or what propels me from place to place, the next time my license expires I'll be eligible to collect Social Security and to enroll in Medicare. Now that is an eye-opener. Wherever I am going, whatever I am going to do, I need to get my ass in gear. Time's a wastin' ... this auto is pulling away from the curb into the busy thoroughfare heading in a new direction. Buckle the seat belt, turn up the radio, wrap a brightly hued chiffon scarf over my thick chestnut hair so I arrive at my destination looking more like Bridget Bardot than Bridget Jones. Hop in or move aside. This girl's got plans.

Cheers! Until tomorrow.

To get? Or, not to get? That is the question.

A dear friend told me today that he is not sure he really 'gets' me, but that he is getting closer. It has just taken him a while longer ruminating over the whats and whys that make me, me ... than with others. Which surprises me. And doesn't. I am not easy to 'get'. Or, get.

My friend is one of the most brilliant, perceptive people I know. Hands down. His humor quirky, his intellect deep, his sense of adventure intact. A refined Alec Baldwin. Bad boy meets Winston Churchill. But like me, he's a bit shaky in his boots. Slightly out of sync with our peers. Our traditional but unconventional sensibilities aligned. I hold my cards very close to my vest. Very. I do not let my guard down totally. Neither does he. So I get it.

We have been friends for five years. Off and on depending on the season, how the wind blows, what else is going on in our lives, the fullness of our pocketbooks, our weight. When we are not in contact, I miss him dreadfully. When we are together, I am oft overwhelmed. Does he 'get' me? Scarily so. Then one of us pushes away from the pool side and paddles off goggles blinding the peripheral view swimming to shallower, safer waters. No periscope. No rear-view mirror.

But it's okay. We reconnect. Always do. Our parallel lives intersecting at some alien juncture. No rhyme. No reason. Just the passing of an appropriate amount of time.

It's funny how we met that first time. Two over-education, under-employed fifty-somethings relocated from bright lights, big city for different reasons, at different times to the same New England town on the coast. I was a no-show at the port side sports bar for our inaugural rendez-vous and the final game of the World Series. Way out of my zone. The nearly all-male patronage clinking long neck bottles of brew and slapping each other on the ass. Not my vibe. One glance at the scene inside those steamed up windows swirling with testosterone and I scurried back to my car. Fast. No brass ones here!

So my dear friend and I met a few weeks later. Same bar. Baseball season over; basketball barely begun. We shared mussels, a Caesar's salad and wine, sophisticated SITC 1980s misadventures, outlook on life. Talked through the evening, bar hopping. Closed the high-tony bistro on the marsh swilling drinks boasting garnishes ... a lime for him and my three olives ... piano-side. Our friendship launched that night a half decade ago. Spirited discussions of clothing ventures melding my strategic business savvy with his marketing genius. Driving throughout the region to anywhere and nowhere exploring. Planning jaunts to Savannah ... and to England to quench his things for all things Anglophile. Tailgating at my son's Ivy League college, Crimson Punch flowing from the spigots in red plaid Skotch Koolers. Platonic sailing into and out of each other's harbors over the years.

It has been a year. Thirteen months actually. My path is once again intersecting with my MadMan's. There are blanks to fill in. I's to dot. T's to cross. Color outside the lines. So my dear friend, slower is better. There is plenty of time. What's not to get?

Cheers ... until tomorrow!

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Strategery" 101

The original plan:

  1. January 2010 test the waters.
  2. In Southeast Asia. Vietnam to be precise.
  3. One month of intensive CELTA training. Hanoi, preferably.
  4. Explore the country. Da Nang, Saigon (HMC), Diem Bien Phu, China Beach
  5. Get my bearings.
  6. Investigate housing options.
  7. Check out the ex-pat community.
  8. Assess the fit. Long term? Short term? At all?
  9. Use air miles, savings, OPM and hutzbah.

This clearly defined proof-of-concept phase would allow me to return stateside for March and May family obligations. Raise the funds, pack up my home, tidy up some loose ends ... and voila! Head back in September to teach business English and maybe even entrepreneurial studies, strategic planning or marketing development in-country.

Vet the opportunity? This is after all a VC (that's venture capital NOT Viet Cong) investment. It is. Emerging markets - me and the country. The consummate early stage venture replete with the need for adequate capital, positive cash flow, core competencies, traction, an exit strategy leading me to my best self.

Due diligence was conducted in earnest over the summer of 2009 placing me on the trajectory for the January 2010 launch. As you know by now, phase numero uno the proof-of-concept stage, didn't meet the target date. It is January. Snow is outside my window. Bailey lies contently on the Kilim pillow on the floor. I am still in Maine. Swine flu grabbed me in its vice grip between holidays and is just letting go. Hamstrung by severely dwindling (rock bottom, actually) coffers, I wavered.

Launch timing delays are not uncommon in new ventures. They happen all the time. The best founding teams know when to pull the plug temporarily or for good. To exercise the leadership and knowledge base expertise expected of them by the stakeholders. Often time is needed to finalize pre-start-up tasks, extend the discovery phase, tweak overall strategy. Raise capital. Harness resources. Establish a new timeline.

Well this time, the stakeholder c'est moi seulement. It is my obligation to get it right. To define success. To exceed (or at the very least) meet expectations. Mine. Moi-meme. The sole beneficiary of this escapade, this (ad)venture.

So with renewed enthusiasm and energy fueling the redesign. The clock resets. New launch date: early fall 2010. Much to do. Time to do it.

Lot's of deep-down-to-the-tips-of-my-toes soul searching since the beginning of the year. Second guessing. Devil's advocacy. Invaluable insights from the mystical arts. Here's to the road less travelled. To a graceful arrival at the big 6-0 with smiling and daring to imagine the possibilities.

Cheers! Until tomorrow ...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just the facts, ma'am? Well, not quite.

Promise my musings will not be inspired by daily Tarot readings. Promise! Silly, really. And besides, Tarot cards frightened me. Big time. Who wants to know what is lurking in the background or right around the corner. Not me. But ... this is BIG. Really big. And, the one the other day ... Eight of Cups Reversed ... shocked me into reality. Should I really do this? Can I really do this? Raise the funds? Find a loving place for my beloved Bailey? Turn off the water, the electricity and 'winterize' my porous antique home? Head to the other side of the planet into the unknown? Is this temporary? Permanent? Decisions. Decisions. Details. Ooooh. Too many. Daunting.

Gracefully traversing the back nine as the best me, requires preparation (as every female over a certain age knows all too well). And plenty of it. Much more than tossing a toothbrush, clean panties and a bathing suit into an overnight bag. Tools are needed. Lots of tools. Whatever stocks Lowes' shelves. Home Depot, too, just for good measure. The Barney's shoe box that doubles as my tool box holding one hammer, two screwdrivers - one Phillips, one flat head, a pair of pliers and rusty nails circa 1976 needs real help. Think of this as a shopping cart into which I can pile a leveler with that floating bubble in the thing-a-ma-bob, a stud finder and some furniture glue.

Here I am, jump-starting my quest for rediscovery. Need the universe in my court. The wind at my back. Not a typhoon swirling me toward the tsunami heading in my direction. Indulge me. Straight faced, please! No whispering behind my back. If you have something to add, just let me know. A fatalist, I'll take whatever. A realist, I'll expect nothing. An idealist, I am filled with hope. Wow. Hope? That in itself is monumental. Thought I had misplaced that with my kahunas.

So, here goes. Turn the card over. I just might peek at tomorrows, too ;-) So, with fingers tentatively perched on the keyboard I scroll through my browser's Favorites and * poof * click the hyperlink which transports me in a nano-second to ...

The Six of Swords! Wahoo! I am once again headed into the sun. The light. My adventure aloft. Time to travel. Move to a new area, perhaps by or near the water. A change of pace and scenery. A slowing down. This part of your journey needs reverence and thought. Pick up the pieces and move on. Regained health, but it's been a slow process. Take slow methodical steps. Keep your chin up, this is a time of recovery. Sadness, but not depression. Coping. Hope is renewed. A reversal buoyed by the universe, confirmed.

Dare I? Tomorrow's? Why the hell not? Double-click: the Strength card. Yes! I know this one well. My strong suit really. Derived from years of navigating challenges through the looking glass from one Mad Hatter's tea party to another. Courage begins to bubble up again from the fount in my core. Strength and fortitude. From energy follows thought and action. Power that is respected. Quiet control of oneself and others. Need to bring strength from deep within and continue on in face of adversity. Strength of mind as well as body is needed. Difficult tasks ahead. Focus on all goals at once. Control of all resources at one's disposal. Ability to do what is needed when time is right. Knowing oneself and one's gifts as well as one's weaknesses.

Okay. Finally connected, committed to this dream of mine. You know? This life change feels right. I am at the ready. Can straighten the hem. Iron out the creases. Gently adjust the drape of fabric over the form. Tack sequins here and there. Add a bit of ric-rac, a velvet ribbon a touch of lace or a tender button. Begin to fully clothe the journey. Dress it in style. Design the next step in this journey of mine. It's mine. I shall wear it proudly.

To the universe: Cheers! Until tomorrow.

Bluegrass, City Lights, Cowgirl Boots ... and all that jazz

I live my life in chapters. Sequential. Chronological. Inextricably linked. Illogical in that I tend to do things a wee bit out of order. House ownership sans husband. Child without marriage. Relocating my small family of two from metro New York to one of the O states with zero job prospects, friends or contacts. You get the picture. Out of sync. The swirling shards somehow piecing themselves into the most marvelous pattern. Not jagged in the least. A most pleasing composition. Of that, I am proud. No jarring edges. Overlaps sometimes need folding, wrinkles smoothed. Bemazed? Nope. A glorious juxtaposition of the dichotomies that are ... well ... moi! A walking paradox.

My life has been extraordinary, in a small way. I have lived large and not so; came of age in the psychedelic 60s when all things were possible; matured in the sophisticated city humbled by finding out that they are not; and now appreciate the exhilaration of life off the beaten path - a tapestry of experiences, enriched sensibilities.

Born and bred in Kentucky’s rolling bluegrass, I had a most magical childhood. The eldest of Bobbie and Billy's four children, three girls and a boy. A litter really. Less than 4 1/2 years from top to bottom. Nested and nurtured with frequent family adventures near and far inspiring my life travels. Forever enriching my core. Honing my imagination. Instilling confidence and self-reliance. Embracing diverse people, places and experiences. Outward thinking.

My gracious southern upbringing, amid waxy magnolias, cucumber and watercress sandwiches, bourbon balls, swimming pools and the best of friends embedded a calm security within. Yet there was the prevailing notion that the world beyond was brightly hued. More vivid. One not as easy to navigate. Where burrs and briers were dangerously close to the path, humanity not as gentle, lives less refined. This would be a most exciting place to explore. To experience. In which to come of age.

So as the Alice that I am, I held my nose, scrunched up my face and imbibed from the bottle that warned ... and scurried down the rabbit hole. Venturing through the looking glass to peer at life from the inside out. Armed with deep intellect, the grace to think for myself, compassionate sensitivity, chestnut hair hovering just above my ass and a killer smile, I set forth on my own path joining the bands of merry 'boomers on our inaugural foray into a world delirious with promise, promiscuity ... and pot!

First stop: a women's college near New York City two weeks after the Woodstock nation emerged peacefully from a rain-soaked dairy farm upstate. A new order set in motion. Ivy league mixers replaced by nascent rock and roll legends grooving at the Fillmore East, pre-MTV apparitions streaming across our hallucinogenic-induced minds.

Frequent visits to Greenwich Village with fellow soul-sisters from the upper echelons of society melding inconspicuously (or so we thought) among drugged out hipsters and runaways. Weekend hippies fresh off the train from the suburbs. Silken hair. Clean faces. Fringed suede vests from Bergdorf's over the finest silk blouses with balloon cuffed sleeves and oversized collars that would scare a clown. Landlubber jeans that sat low, very low, on the slimmest of nubile hips flowing into the widest of bells draped over Swedish clogs. Braless, our Pucci undergarments stored neatly in college dorm rooms, hiding. We were offered many things. None of value. Mary Jane (oregano), $25 and breakfast, our college's unwritten promise "ring by spring or your money back".

I had landed in a 1950s former finishing school that may as well been located in Virginia. How the hell did I know that they were striving to educate women to have intelligent conversations with our doctor-lawyer husbands? WTF? Must've been in the fine print. I had signed on no dotted line. I was outta there.

But as Daddy wisely counseled - don't look back. This time I headed to a college mecca. The bastion of intelligentsia. The hub of the wheel. To university in brick-clad, ivy-covered Boston. Alive with protest, allure, rocking tunes and long haired boys. I grabbed life by the balls.

My sweet, darling college boyfriend ... a brilliant attorney-to-be who, hands down, has the most gorgeous eyes I have ever gazed into, the deepest intellect, most caring soul and with whom I shared tremendous passion, aligned sensibilities, the fleeting innocence of young love ... became a very short term husband. Unprepared for the unexpected realities of a broken heart and mourning the loss of our dreams, I submersed myself into my studies. And closed the deal ... with high honors!

Freshly minted MBA in hand, I emerged a working girl dressed for success in a man's world with my floppy tie and Brooks Brothers tailored suit ... with a bod for sex and a head for business. And, I excelled. The fast track. My path greased not by sleeping my way to the top (who the hell lets them dip their pens in company ink anyway?) but the old fashioned way bringing profitable new business to the conservative Boston bank who paid my mortgage and opened an office for my burgeoning merchant banking activities in the newly emerging telecommunications and electronic entertainment sectors in the mecca of all things financial = New York.

I had arrived. The city of my dreams. My pulse quickened and I soared. Manhattan, the city of the brightest lights, people and aspirations. I was home. Infatuated. Energized. Inspired. My very own sex-in-the-city. And then ... poof ... whoops ... with child. But Daddy-o left six months before my darling son was born into the hottest summer on record and a lovely coop in Carnegie Hill. Never looked back. Never made contact. Not in the nearly twenty two years since. Got lost in the world; absorbed in his flight of fancy. So there I was flying solo. Murphy Brown-style. Dan Quayle frowned. Oh. Did I mention that the Boston bank closed the New York office? Post-1987 Black Monday fallout. Lemons precariously near. Add sugar, mint leaves, a few cubes of ice with a twist and swilled. Refreshing. The vodka would come later.

Enter vodka! An attempt to create the semblance of normalcy (note to self: no need to appear mainstream ever again) backfired. Made a pact with the devil. I'll leave it at that. No peeking behind the curtains. Not worth revisiting. Not for a moment. Marital disarray forced a detour out of my comfort zone to the edge of the prairie where the wind races and the dust swirls. There I rediscovered ... me ... in the buckle of the bible belt. My possessions packed in my wagon (albeit a Volvo 850 Turbo; not a Conestoga) and an eighteen-wheeler. My son in one hand and gumption in the other, a modern pioneer woman seeking a new life in a new land.

No guts? No glory. Jump-started my career (which had been on hiatus for ... count 'em ... 8 years), I rolled up my shirt sleeves got more than a bit of the red earth under my finger nails and immersed myself in the good ol' boy bid'ness community and became an honest-to-god member of Oklahoma's economic landscape. Hell, I was even the finalist two years running for Oklahoma Woman of the Year. And received a Commendation from the reddest of governors with gratitude and appreciation for my contributions. Big wow. My son flourished. He played football with the Okie farm boys, caught the ugliest catfish ever in the blood red rivers and dressed up as a rodeo clown for Halloween!

We delighted in our new home in the southwest in a state that had not yet celebrated its 100th year and where the capitol was still minus its dome. Like the Sooners before us, we had stolen a bit of the wacky charm and grit of Native America and left more than a piece of ourselves behind in the friends we made, the new ventures I helped found and our John Doe's squarely on the steel cross-beam that now supports a shiny new golden dome atop the state house proudly paid (but of course) by the black gold flowing from derricks on the front lawn.

When my son left the plains bound for high school in New England, I repacked our belongings into corrugated cartons and relocated to the tranquility of the coastal Maine of delicious summer vacations. While treasured walks with Bailey (my ubiquitous and much cliched black Labrador retriever) in the salty air along the coast or into snow frosted woods near my antique village home invigorate my spirit, my soul needs enlivening after nearly a decade away from pulsing city life and the roar of the crowd.

This is my story and I'm sticking to it! The bare bones upon which to drape the fabric of my life. Nearly sixty years in slightly more than twelve hundred words. Amazing. Succinct. Passamentry to be added when relevant. And only if!

Bring on the next chapter. And, the next! The integration of my multi-faceted self. Held together by scotch tape and Elmer's glue, I am an amalgamation of the different beats I have marched to, danced to, made love to, cried to, stressed to, laughed to, and sipped martinis (or milk or TaB or iced tea) to over the nearly six decades that compose my life. Banjos and fiddles, soul music, folk, blues, classic rock, jazz, Latin, classical and last but definitely not least ... country western from my Oklahoma days sliding not too gracefully across the slickest of floors sprinkled with corn meal and soot. And, the beat goes on.

Wow. Today's musings required more than a few olives!! You still with me? If so, cheers ... until tomorrow!

Reality Bites

The backstory. The prequel actually. Reveal the motivators. Shape the direction. Tighten the aperture. Clarify. Focus. Peer out through a brighter lens. Or, hey, at least replace the scratched, rose-colored lenses with Jackie-O shades. Reality bites. Big. Embrace the warts, toads and tulips. Throw off the shackles. Face the demons. All of them. All of them.

Do I do it here? In the remaining three plus weeks before my adventure through the looking glass begins in earnest? Hell. Why not. Get it over with. Bite the bullet. Summarize. Just hit the high notes. Intertwined with a few anecdotal references that will facilitate connecting those proverbial dots. Daunting. Shroud the actors posing in this bete-noir to make them less recognizable. More daunting. Impossible.

What if I uncover ... or worse admit ... that my travels to date have been a ruse? Bumblings. Blind luck. The fates conspiring without any action, reaction, precaution on my part. Not a single bit proactive. Devoid of strategy. Rudderless. Just amorphous, tangled pathways. No real direction. Pushed along blindly by happenstance, circumstances and the people populating the previous chapters.

Or ... and god I hope this is the case ... a thoughtfully constructed framework for my awakening. The confluence of the disparate routes of my journey. Well-conceived. Born from the scraps, shrapnel, treasures, delights found along the way. Shaping my destiny. Framing it to sparkle. To matter.

Propellants. What are they really? Boredom? Loneliness? Thrill-seeking? Solitude? Discovery? Search for that one great illusive romance? Wanderlust? Commitment phobia? Fear of dying before every drop of nectar has been sucked from the fruit? Fear of dying period? All of them. Yep. Each and every one.

Next time, promise. Uncover the salient factors contributing to my ennui ... or my zest for adventure ... or my need to move on. Promise. No more dilly-dallying. No more excuses. Fingers uncrossed behind my back. Next time, martini in hand, I'll reel in and quasi-structure the backstory, my backstory, as the prequel to the adventures ahead.

Cheers ... until tomorrow!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Something's Gotta Give

Three of Cups today. Return to normalcy. Friends. Positive vibes. Happiness and light. Relax in the moment.

In the moment? Relax and take it all in? That seems complacent. What about my plans? My (re)newed lease on life? Wanderlust propelling me to accomplish something for the greater good. Hmmm. I fear that I am in love with the IDEA of the journey. Must not get caught up in the illusions.

Note to self: Examine the reasons I have put my plans to attend ESL training in Hanoi on hold. Is this indefinite? What lays behind my indecision? Lack of funds? Lack of focus? Lack of gumption? Fear of getting out of my comfort zone for real? My mind is spinning ... and so is a concrete strategy. Stagnation has all but halted my detailed, fact-based, time line for the steps toward relocating to Vietnam in January. It is now January. I am not in Southeast Asia.

1) Is it lack of resources? The inability to maintain my village home while I am experimenting as an ex-pat in an emerging market? My remaining consulting clients dropped by the wayside five months ago evaporating my cash flow.


2) Was my decision to attend ESL training in Vietnam because at the time I felt my son, my heart, would be starting his career in Hong Kong or Singapore? At least we would be in the same hemisphere able to celebrate holidays and enjoy spontaneous weekend visits. He'll know in another month or so where his career path begins.


3) Am I wavering between teaching ESL anywhere in the world and micro-lending opportunities in Africa or Asia. The latter a natural segue from my professional career as a financier and venture capitalist; the former retooling and full immersion into a developing economic landscape.

You know? I want to do them both. Successful completion of the grueling CELTA training adds another arrow to my quiver and can provide an income stream ANYwhere on the planet. Teaching business English to entrepreneurs and executives conducting global business transactions will open the doors to the local financial community. I am no stranger to networking and becoming integral to economic development. My resume speaks for itself. I have done this before. Albeit in this country. But a stranger. A duck (read: single woman with child) out of water (read: in a red, good ol' boy state that hadn't ratified the ERA) ... but it worked. It was a success. Now I am on to something.

Cheers ... until tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's in the cards. Or, is it?

Now I am confused. Totally bewildered by the readings of my Tarot cards for the past two days. Yikes. They are diametrically opposed.

Yesterday my Tarot card applauded this boundaryless journey of mine. I was emerging into the sunlight unencumbered. Downright positive, actually. The World: Fulfillment of one's dreams and hopes. The World is literally at your feet! The journey that began with the Fool is now complete with the World. The universe's energies are at your command now. Act with bravery and confidence that what you have worked for is here. The end of a long journey. Completion. Reward. Accomplishment. Time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Success and attainment. The sum of all things coming together to work for same cause.

Today's jolts me back into the inertia, the paralysis that has gripped me of late crippling my confidence to move away from my cocoon and into the new life paradigm that is bubbling up inside pushing me forward on a new path. Eight of Cups Reversed compromises my new-found confidence: Stay where you are, this is not the time to be searching for anything or to go on a trip. Patterns need to be broken. Rules of relationship have been broken and need redefining. Time to let others in to help as you cannot do this alone. The journey you thought you had to take is uncertain. Perhaps everything will be okay.

Tomorrow who knows what the universe will reveal by way of direction. I need to sort this out. Delve deep. According to The World my journey has ended, overjoyed to have emerged into the light, whole and satisfied. But that cannot be. I am still at the station awaiting transport which will speed me along a redefined super-route to greater self-fulfillment, leveraging my attributes seasoned over more than half a century to enrich the lives of others. I am not at the end. No, I am at the beginning. The intersection, the juncture that will lead me to finding my heart. Aligned to my true north.

Yes. Need to correlate the two. Figure out the message. Learn from it. Explore my past. Come to terms with the events good and bad. Integrate them. Bring forward the lessons. Discard the inequities. Tip the bloody Eight of Cups back on its base. Identify the patterns that need casting aside. Bring co-travelers into the inner circle. [Ooh, that will be difficult. I have become so self-reliant, my independent nature soared to the uber-sphere. Anti-dependent, really. Managed my expectations to a bare minimum. Not good.] So, I must build a team. Confidants that can provide support, encouragement, ideas, trouble-shoot ... help guide the process. My navigators, co-pilots. Validate the action plan. Breathe strength back into my confidence so I can venture forth into the World. Carry on.

Cheers? Until tomorrow ...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sailing away from the safe harbor ...

Monday after the holidays. The first real day of the new year. The day when office life kicks back into full gear, children climb onto the yellow bus techno toys tucked deep into the pockets of their winter gear hidden from short-fused teachers, commuters slog onto the train platform or back their cars joylessly out of the garage and head back to work. No more half days and middle of the week parties where clinking glasses filled with holiday cheer snuff out the day-to-day minutia of the other 50 weeks. If I were a day, I wouldn't want to be today. To make matters worse, it's January. Days are dreadfully short, snow and ice are in the air or are heading my way and my jeans are a bit tight. Its grey grey grey ... and freezing. Daylight savings and the warm spring sun are light-years away.

But it is also the beginning. The year is fresh. Unsullied. Filled with possibilities. Pounds to lose. New friends to meet. Opportunities to explore. Money to make. Prioritizing the priorities. This year, 2010, I am singing a different tune. Off key perhaps, but with a syncopation and phrasing composed in transit. Am trying to dig down deeply into the crevices of my being to determine what I want to do when I grow up. To garner the courage to step away from the security of my cocooned village home on the New England coast. To leverage my skill set for the betterment of others and not for brain dead consulting assignments or volunteer boards that trip over themselves trying to set their initiatives and implement staid objectives. But to ignite my imagination. To envision a new life-style without the safety net. One which makes the most of not only what I can offer, but what I need to internalize, to experience before I shut my hazel green eyes for the big sleep. Whatever it is will encompass world travel and multi-cultural experiences giving of my self. Teaching ESL? Inspiring the next generation in some capacity? Mentoring elders in villages on the savannah or near the rice paddies on entrepreneurial projects for future sustainability?

Guided by the immortal words of fellow Lotosian, Samuel Clemens (whose larger than life ideas, magical pursuits and intellectual curiosity have delighted generations of adventurers) I am taking my first steps on this new path. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Tomorrow, I promise: less philosophizing more footing in reality. I have plans to make. An 'a faire' list to create. Strategies to implement. Less procrastinating. The hell with the 30 day lead time I allowed. Need to get on with the business of making this change. And, to start shedding the weight, the burden of the naughty aughts ... the zero decade ... and head down the highway to the renewed me.

Cheers ... until tomorrow!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Preparing to fly solo

Sunday. Last day of the holiday vacation. Tomorrow I drive my son back to Cambridge, Massachusetts for his final college term. He has much to do: honors thesis prep, trip to London for job interviews and then to Cambridge University to conduct archival research, finalize job applications. Busy. Busy. Filled with excitement re his next step. His foray into the real world a newbie global citizen jazzed by involvement in either emerging market finance or intensive tai-pan training with a Hong Kong multinational conglomerate involved in multiple industry sectors with locations spanning the planet. He's hitting the ground running.

It has been an amazing 21 years. Astounding really. Have I mentioned that I am his sole parent? A mommy-daddy who has nurtured and mentored my bright, inquisitive, compassionate son. Been his personal tour guide as we ventured throughout the world, across America and delved deep into films, art, literature, multi-cultural influences, historic figures and events to enhance and make alive the experience at hand. It has been extraordinary. My son is the best of me and my greatest teacher. That he has taken my professional background and is zinging it exponentially doesn't surprise me. I did the same with my father's. And, he with his. What my son is embarking upon comes naturally. DNA coding. Surreal considering that this remarkable boy whom I birthed as my 'window was closing' is not only my heart, but the essence of my being. But that seems right. He has no father. Just me. I had carte blanche to screw him up or give him roots and his wings loft. Lucky for him (although the jury is still out) my primary objective of raising a child who becomes a happy, well-adjusted thirty year old just might happen. We are 70% into this zany experiment, that happend not by foresight, but by serendipity. A chance discovery. A non-decision. I added vodka ... and let the spirits guide our journey. We hit the jackpot.

So all of this banter brings me back to the year at hand. I am once again flying solo. Grounded by inertia, yet propelled by what I can do now that I have finally grown up. My engines are idling. Preparing to taxi down the runway. I need to conduct those final checks to ensure that the instruments signal the way. My map is dog-earred and rather tatty. The fuselage needs priming ... and to lose that extra 12 pounds to lighten the load. Eyes half shut, the grimace becoming a smile, I am aiming the nose toward the sun streaming on the unknown and unexplored. Here goes!

Cheers! Until tomorrow ...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ready, set, go ... well almost

Wow. I have been typing, backspacing and retyping for over thirty minutes to pen the fabulous essay that drifted across my mind while I slept last night. Thought I had today's post figured out. Just needed to get it onto the page, press save and voila! Amazing what happens when you are certain you'll remember how you wordsmithed the most interesting blog, then ... poof ... your fifty-something head forgot the essence. Anyway, here I sit staring at the keyboard knowing that if I cannot enthrall myself, how the hell will anyone else (aside from my Mom and son) want to tune in for their recurring glimmer into this wild ride. God, I hope it is thrilling and not some pathetic, half-assed year in the life of an aging baby boomer with passions unexplored but no kahunas to pull it off.

So my mission is to chronicle what I hope to be an off-the-beaten path kind of journey. To record my thoughts, the internal debates, the day to day sidetracking that will often thwart my efforts ... but will fuel real adventures: ESL training in Hanoi, creating micro-lending opportunities for village women in Namibia, attending a bona fide milonga in Buenos Aires tango shoes at the ready.

Fortunately I gave myself a month of practice time before the year begins in earnest. To get my sea legs so to speak. My voice. Really to just figure out whether I am in this for the long haul (which I truly believe I am). I have to shake things up. To follow my unrequited dreams, to maybe (and this is a big maybe) meet my twin soul, to become my best self once again. I need to re-imagine the possibilities. To fully immerse myself in the world out there. To meet my demons. To participate fully. That is where I have been falling down lately. So one month until my real B-day (read: blog or birth). Time to get this right. Not the posts, but to get my ample ass in gear. Ground Hog's Day 2010. My 59th. The beginning.

Cheers! Until tomorrow ...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's a brand new year ... imagine the possibilities

Welcome to our first footing in the new year. 2010 is pristine, fresh as the powdered snow falling in the mountains. Her Valentines have not yet been delivered, nor have the first blossoms of spring emerged from the cold earth. Words on the pages of her history have not yet revealed themselves. 2010 is an open book waiting to be etched with what will be forever known as its very own events ... some infamous and filled with horror, others tiny yet filled with profound joy. Check Spelling

For me, well it is my final year as a fifty-something ... skeptical as to whether 60 is really the new 40. God I hope so. That decade would culminate in the me as my best self: a seasoned professional, a new mom, the confidence (or bravura) to uproot my small family of two from the rarefied northeast to the edge of the prairie. My 40s presented me with incredible opportunities and new pathways albeit a bit littered with those inevitable challenges that were scattered along the route at the most curious junctures. When times got jumbled up and a bit sour tasting (as they somehow always do), I motored ahead with as much sparkle as I could procure from my tattered self. It worked. Now I have to rediscover the magic (and locate my jar of sparkles) before it is waaaaaaay too late. Time is of the essence. Life is of the essence.

The journey continues. My journey. Unconventional in a traditional from the outside sort of way. Yet off the road more often travelled. An Aquarian, I adore change and seek it out (much to my surprise, often to my detriment). The planet has opened up to me and I want to immerse myself more fully in the grit and the glamour in a roll up my shirt sleeves, get some dirt under my finger nails sort of way. Not as a gardener per se. But in the developing world, the frontier economies. But (and this is a very big BUT and not easy to admit to my independent self ) this time with a cherished friend sharing life, love and whatever is right around that corner or down that cobblestoned street or under those lovely arching plene trees along the country road.

Here begins anew my next adventure ... meeting 2010 head-on with the precise goal of meeting the big 6-0 as my best self once again. To 2010! Cheers until tomorrow ...