Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Solstice Is Sunday

How dark is dark? How quiet?

Wake up early this Sunday morning, let's say about 5 am, and you'll find out. Even with the sky full of bright stars.

In the inner city, of course, your stars are more theoretical than visible, so you'll need to pull your hat over your eyes to get the sky obsidian effect.

The hat helps. Imagine stars your only fire. We know they are out there. The stars, I mean. Even if you're hiding under your covers.

And if you stand out there for a couple of hours (bundle up!), you'll be exactly in time (7:04 am)for the Winter Solstice. With the rising sun comes the literal return of the light after the longest night of the year.

Winter Solstice at sunrise gives us a a chance to welcome back the light literally. So it's a special morning no matter what you're doing -- even sleeping in. Isn't that what Sundays are for??

I'll be out there with you, freezing my toes off but ready to soak in the chi that the Buddhists believe comes down on our pointed little human heads at this magical moment. We can all use the chi . . . what a year we've collectively experienced. Sometimes I wonder if it all really happened?

I guess that depends on what your definition of real is . . . Sometimes, I'm not sure. I know what is is. I learned that about 9 years ago at the same time you did. . . .

Anyway, if you don't plan to get up early on Sunday, remember, intention is worth something too.

Before you go to bed the night before, ask for the blessings of beneficent and wondrous chi. Why not! You deserve it even if all you plan to do is roll over for more time under the covers.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dolphins Rule at SeaWorld

I'm sure I was a sea creature in a past life, so when I fed the dolphins at SeaWorld ($7 for 3 little fish, but who's complaining), I was happy to meet some relatives!

Dolphins seem to be well tended there at the park. Time with humans is strictly limited, and interactions are monitored (the humans are the ones misbehaving by grabbing the dolphins' toys).

R's birthday was the official reason for making the trip, but the idea of SeaWorld was perfect for my Neptunian dreamscape with or without a notable event to celebrate.

My sisters and brother and I spent our childhood in the water. My mother and father ran the local swimming program for the various "villages" around Coventry and West Warwick. Places like Clyde, Arctic, Phenix, and Crompton where most kids lived in multi-family houses and didn't get to swim much.

Those kids got to go to Lake Tiogue once a week. We went every day with our dad and his very shiny silver whistle.

Up in New England, the water in the middle of summer hardly ever climbs above 60 degrees, but we didn't know any different. Cold makes you strong. We were 5 minutes from Middle Dam and 20 minutes from Narragansett Bay and Scarborough Beach. My favorite then.

I guess I have a new favorite now . . . SeaWorld!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blue Blue Blue States

If hope is a bird with feathers in the collective soul of our great nation right now, that bluebird is singing her little heart out . . . as the color red disappears under the breaking blue wave of change.

The talk shows this bright Sunday morning are calling for Barak Obama's win to be big -- more than 350 electoral votes. Red states turning blue one by one . . . like a giant ink bottle overturned on the prairie.

As a child of the 60s, I'm inspired. The rise of our collective resolve to re-ignite our democracy feels like the same strong spirit we believed in a long time ago.

The last nail in the coffin of John McCain's fight for the White House? An endorsement by Dick Cheney. Howdy Doody and Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring would have won him more votes than the buckshot-loaded, soon-to-be lame-duck veep.

Good luck on voting day! The line may be long, but the results will be worth it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lemurs Sighted in Pumpkinville

My Daughter, Erin, just returned from Pumpkinville, somewhere near Leesburg, VA, and as it turns out lemurs live there!

Erin visited Pumpkinville with her best friend's toddlers, their mother (best friend), and Grandma Pat.

Besides the requisite sheep, goats, and llamas, Erin was surprised to see a lemur. She has seen them at the Philadelphia Zoo, near where she lives and teaches art and photography.

Keep your tails up little lemur fans! Erin's not quite ready to join the ranks of LASOA, the Lemur Appreciate Society of America, but she's close.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hurricane Hanna

One thing about a hurricane barreling up the coast, you can feel it coming. Everything gets quiet, doesn't it?

The day you're standing in is more beautiful, more clear than any day you can remember for a long while, but something is going on way out there in the ocean. Something big. Something that can't stop spinning and sucking all the water into a wall hundreds of feet high . . .

From the air, it looks like a whorl of white smoke or a cloud turning like a great wheel, making its way across the water undoing everything in its wake.

We could be in a maelstrom upsidedown. We could be in a backwards clock.

What we all need is a disaster supply kit at the ready, just in case.

The Federal Government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (www.noaa.gov) offers this list:

Water - at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days

Food - at least enough for 3 to 7 days
— non-perishable packaged or canned food/juices
— foods for infants or older adults
— snacks
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools/fuel
— paper plates/plastic utensils

Bedding - Blankets/Pillows, etc.

Clothing - seasonal/rain gear/sturdy shoes

First Aid Kit/Medicines/Prescription Drugs

Flashlight & Batteries

Radio - Battery-operated & NOAA weather radio

Telephones - Fully charged cell phone with extra battery & a traditional (not cordless) telephone set

Cash & Credit Cards - Banks & ATMs may not be available for extended periods


Toys, Books, Games

Important documents - in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.

Tools - keep a set with you during the storm

Gas - Vehicle fuel tanks filled

Pet care items— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eclipse of the Midnight Sun

Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:15 and ran outside in my "Little Pig on Holiday" shorts. My big hurry? The solar eclipse. It was supposed to start at 6:21 am, eastern daylight time. Or so I thought.

Out in the yard, not one bird chirped, not one squirrel barked, even Walt (the cat) stayed inside. In a few minutes, the sun rose full faced with no sign of darkness. What did I miss?

Ah, as I soon found out, the eclipse could be seen only from Mogolia, Russia, and the Arctic Circle.

I did feel its presence though . . . a few seconds of half light and that breathtaking silence and otherworldly stillness. When I looked online a little while later, I learned that the arc of the eclipse (not sure what that is) had passed right through Washington, DC, just a few miles away.

The all powerful "nothing" visits our time-managed lives, our winding side streets, our wobbly privacy fences.

I think of Wallace Stevens and his snowman. In August's furnace, I'm thinking snow. In December's freeze, I'm in Jamaica. And whenever there's an eclipse of the sun or the moon, everything is out of the ordinary -- magical and unknown.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hot Sauce, Fire Water

Some people like ketchup on their eggs in the morning, and some people like tabasco sauce. Or that's the way it used to be.

Now, a new item appears in the hot sauce section of my grocery store in Silver Spring almost every week.

If you like to collect bottles of hot sauce, fly to New Orleans for the greatest selection. You'll have more bottles than a genie!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hot Poetry in Provincetown

Who turned up the thermostat in New England last week? Wasn't me. The apartments at the Fine Arts Work Center are without A/C, but let's face it. Nobody's in her room at FAWC.

The workshops, on the other hand, do have A/C. Unfortunately, because some of us are soft-spoken, the A/C is often sacrificed so we can hear each other.

We're talking 100 degrees in an upstairs room with the windows closed. I think this is a new theory of creativity. Roast the fledgling poet until something breezy and lyrical appears on the page.

Did not work for me. I think workshops are wonderful -- certainly a workshop with an inspiration like Jean Valentine. She's generous, thoughtful, honest, and kind to each and every poem that comes to her.

But I always get a little nervous when somebody says, "I like your poem. If you don't publish it, I will." I've heard this more than once in a workshop. My answer, "Well, it's not your poem," doesn't seem to rouse any remorse either.

All in all, I'm rethinking workshops. In truth, the only opinion I value is the poet's. So there's a gnarly branch to stumble over when I'm trying to explain my "snobby" attitude.

Let's take my poem, "Sleeping with Tigers," for example. I wrote this fanciful poem more than a year ago, but I'm still plagued with it being too long and not quite right. But no matter what I may want to change, the poem is about tigers. Thus the title. Duh.

Two people in my workshop said they were disturbed that I was focusing on animals and not on the human suffering (slavery) that white traders caused on the coast of Africa back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

I suggested that was their poem to write, not mine. I mean this poem is about saving an old tiger. I don't actually think that's possible in real life, but it's lovely to consider.

As soon as "tigers" is published, I'll post it on this blog.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Little Boat . . .

A little boat's waiting for me down at the shore in P'town right now . . . but it's still days 'til I get there.

Three days to be exact. I should be grateful for the short wait, but I'm not. Laundry, packing, changing oil, selling two goats to buy enough gasoline to get up there.

And what about my surfboard? I haven't used it in 30 years, but I just might, so I better tie that to the roof of the car. Not to mention the industrial-strength fan, bedding and cooking utensils, Comedy and Tragedy masks in case someone decides we need some theater . . . A Greek chorus perhaps?

I'll pick up my children in Philly, my aunt in Poughkeepsie, and my sister's cat (see the sad story about Buzz the Rocket Cat's untimely demise last week).

There's something about driving into P'town and seeing the dunes all around. That's when I get out of my car and start walking. It happens every year.

Up early for my workshop, long walks with an old friend from high school, writing late into the night . . . I'm there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Del and Phyllis at the AFI

The American Film Institute in Silver Spring, MD, recently hosted Joan E. Biren's award-winning documentary, "No Secrets Anymore: The Life and Times of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon."

Auspiciously, this event took place just a few days after Del and Phyllis exchanged marriage vows -- for the third time -- in their home town of San Francisco.

The first couple to wed after the most recent California law allowing same-sex marriage, Del (87) and Phyllis (82) are pictured here cutting their cake after the ceremony.

The film at the AFI was sponsored by Friends of the Montgomery County Library, great supporters of the expansion and diversity of our local free film collections. Hooray for their efforts.

Stories of exceptional human beings like Del and Phyllis need to be readily available to people everywhere who want to learn more about the way people live. The library is one sure place to keep that happening.

Many reasons to honor these women. . . . first, they've managed to stay in a devoted relationship for decades. Second, they both -- even in their twilight years -- remember to have fun and include their friends in the festivities.

Joan introduced the film and thoughtfully answered everyone's questions later on. Famous for her still photos, Joan is just as knowledgeable about films and film-making. And she has a deep appreciation for history (and herstory). The time she spent with Del and Phyllis making the film is a storyteller's dream.

So take a walk to your local library and ask to borrow "No Secrets Anymore." You'll be amazed. I promise.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Kitty Buzz, Always and Forever

Life is perilous and short. Buzz, one of our household's three pets, passed away this morning from liver failure. He died without a sound in his mom Riggin's room.

Earlier, when he came in to the kitchen, he seemed a little wobbly as if his legs wouldn't cooperate with the direction he was heading. But otherwise, he didn't seem that sick. But Scout and Walt came over to him and just stood there looking down at him with concern . . . like they were visiting a friend in the hospital.

This dear, feisty, orange tabby was a cat to remember. The spirit of a lion? I might argue he was a lion. He was an attack cat of the first order and loved to wrap his paws around his mom's forearm and pretend to bite. Well, sometimes he did bite, but not very often.

He came to us in March a few years ago from a cat adoption person. I don't know what year -- 2004? It's hard to remember because once you get to know Buzz he's there forever right beside you. He liked to perch on the back of my chair so he looked like a big fuzzy hat with one leg hanging down around my ear.

Buzz was a jungle cat in a domestic kitty's body. Scout will miss him crouched on the brick wall at the end of the path. Buzz would wait for the right moment, then leap on Scout's back, totally freaking him out.

We wish Buzz all the jungle he ever wanted forever and ever. And lots of little dogs (or gazelles or zebras) to pounce on . . .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Whale of a Tale

When you're visiting Baja California Sur, one of the most amazing things is the world around you.

My first time in Cabo, I flew in a 12-seat Cessna up the coastline about 300 miles to La Bahia de Magdalena. There in the shallow water (max depth 60 feet) of the surrounding lagoons, gray whales raise their young.

The locals make a living by giving touristas, in groups of four or six, rides out in their pangas to meet and greet these gentle huge creatures.

In the photo, I'm making my way over to pet the mother whale who came up to say hello as soon as we turned off the boat's rattling engine. They're like big dogs these whales. When you splash the water the come right up to you, fearless and happy. And they actually look at you. Their eyes remind me of an elephant's eyes, ringed and seeming a little tired.

Funny thing is that gray whales and elephants are almost the same color. I've never petted an elephant, so I'm not sure if their skin is as bumpy as a whale's.

Maybe I'll go to the zoo, hose down an elephant, find a ladder, and pet its head. It might be easier to make my way back to Magdalena Bay next February to pet a whale again.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Across the Street, Over the Rainbow

All the world is crisp and shiny outside the window at work this evening. A double rainbow arching over White Flint Mall . . .

I guess the message is: If you don't go to Nature, Nature comes to you. Right at your desk.

The stormtrack that ended with the rainbow flourish is still moving across the sky with thunderheads and rain off in the distance. Behind it is clear blue sky.

Driving down Sligo Creek Parkway this morning, I noticed the family of wild geese guarding their youngsters as they munched away at yummy things in the grass by the side of the road. The adolecents lost all their fuzz and now look like miniatures of their parents.

I hope it all goes well for them when they set out back to Canada (although I've heard that many don't even bother anymore because of global warming).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Solstice

Today is the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. At 8 pm tonight, one minute after the big moment, the days will officially begin to get shorter and shorter until the Winter Solstice in December.

If a beach appeared on Rockville Pike and waves rolled in over the parking lot at White Flint mall, this would be a perfect first day of summer. Of course if you are planning to drive to the beach tomorrow, I'll be happy to buy your cow and your last sack of beans for the gas money you'll need to get there. Oh, and your lower 40. And your house.

In the photo above, my daughter is enjoying a Solstice moment -- actually, the Winter Solstice -- in Cancun last year. I also plan to post a photo of my son in a sombrero with his partner in crime, a burro with his own sombrero.

Flying is less expensive than driving these days. That's if you don't take anything besides a toothbrush and a change of bloomers. I heard gas will rocket to $6 a gallon next year. Remember when we used to make fun of Europeans for their expensive gas?

American ingenuity always rises to the occasion, though. I heard about a family that sold all their cars and now use horses to get around.

My wish for this astrological power day is that we all figure out how to get around by levitation or sturdy little wings that can be stored unnoticed under our shirts while we're at work.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Woodstock Revisited

In the Post today, I read about the new cultural center on old Yazgur's farm (or what was Yazgur's farm in 1969).

With the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival on the horizon, I'm figuring that the townspeople of Bethel, NY, are making plans to "get it right" by this time next year when 60-year-olds like me show up for music, biblical rains, and c-rations dropped by helicopter onto our frayed blankets . . .

My thing, as it turns out, is Hendrix and that Monday morning anthem in the wee hours before we packed up, dug our VW squareback out of the mud, and got back on the road looking for a hot shower. It's always Hendrix. I want to set my computer on fire the way he incinerated his guitar. How fun would that be for a 60-year-old?

My friends and I drove all the way to Woodstock from Tucson, Arizona, where we spent a few weeks babysitting a monkey whose mom and dad were on vacation in the Canadian Rockies.

By the time they got back, the monkey was out of diapers and spent most of its time perched on the curtain rod whimpering like a baby left on a church doorstep. We tried to be loving and even fed "Maurice" miniature marshmallows one by one.

In all these years, I've never been back to Tucson. It's not the monkey, poor thing. You've heard people say, "Well, yes it's hot, but it's a dry heat." When it's 115 degrees, it's everything you imagined of hell, especially if you were raised Catholic.

One time it rained. Maybe the first week of August. A deluge that brought hundreds and hundreds of frogs out from the dusty riverbeds and up the driveway and around the perimeter of the house. If Hitchcock were around, he'd have another horror movie to make. Me, I'm scared enough as it is . . .

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friends Forever

A friend sent me this photo the other day. Moments like these make a difference in a child's life . . . especially when it's a positive experience and the creature doesn't try to swim off with your dress. I think this is a beluga whale. I wish I had paid more attention in my freshman biology class at GW way back when. Then I could give you an accurate ID. Is the animal smiling? Maybe it's just my imagination.

I couldn't tell you the phylum or species for many creatures . . . except I do know that the raccoon who came in our dog door the other night to eat some kibble and wash her hands in the dog's water bowl is a marsupial. A creature of the night who carries her babies in a pouch (no, not a purse). That telltale little black mask over her eyes. Oh, and the tiny footprints all over the white linoleum.

I guess I should be grateful. Another story is circulating about a woman who in the half sleep of the early morning thought she was petting her cat. Well, it was a raccoon all cuddled up in her blanket! I'm assuming she had a dog door too.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Remembering a True Rhode Islander

Tuesday, June 10, is my dad's 88th birthday. Even though he's not physically around anymore, I sense his presence. Sounds corny, I know, but I hear his voice as clearly as I ever did, even though I can't see him shaking his head in exasperation.

The photo here is my dad with my daughter. We had just left Iggy's Clam Shack in Warwick Neck, a couple days before Easter '05. A typical chilly mid April afternoon.
When I think of my dad, I want to head out on a little boat and set some lobster pots with someone who actually knows how to do that.

I'm looking for a quahog rake like the one dad used to pull up those blue creatures in the muck of low tide along the edges of Narragansett Bay. And I want to grind them up for chowder the way he did, catching them sleeping with their shells open in a bucket of salt water and getting the shucking knife in there to cut that muscle and toss the flesh into the old grinder attached to the kitchen table.

My dad made the best clam chowder in all of Rhode Island. He was a dedicated URI basketball fan, a Red Sox fan, and a good friend to many, many folks around town. The night before he passed away, I sat with him in his study and watched the Red Sox trounce the Orioles. The entire game right to the end. He never did anything "half-assed."

On Tuesday evening, I'll light a candle and ask a friend to play "Moonlight in Vermont" on the accordion. One of my dad's favorite songs. After that, I'll try my hand at one of his famous pierogi recipes. Maybe this time it will work!

Friday, June 6, 2008

P'Town & the Fine Arts Work Center

Soon it will be summer and that means off once again to the Fine Arts Work Center in P'town. This year, I'm taking a weeklong workshop with poet Jean Valentine.

My first semester in the MFA program at American U, I studied with Jean. She was thoughtful and kind. An inspiration. When a student handed something out, she'd say in her soft voice, "Well, how do we do with this one?" People were careful with their criticism as if they knew the muse was easily scared off.

That class was my first attempt at writing poetry. Agonizing sometimes because I didn't know the easy, simple words in my head were worth putting down on paper. I looked for difficult words, inexplicable imagery, sticks and stones from the side of the road.

I forgave myself for that a long time ago. As a matter of fact, I'm grateful I had the courage to take that chance. I was a single mother with two small children, and I sold my house to be there in that program. Proof enough my heart was in the right place.

I wrote my very first poem, "Leaves," when I was 9. I wrote it out in longhand on tan tablet paper with lines I drew with my little pencil-case ruler. I made about $3 selling the poem to my relatives for 25 cents a copy.

Know what? That was a lot of money to make for one poem.

Thanks to my Uncle Rollo and his thoughtful way with children's treasures, I still have an original signed copy. I'll post it one day when blogs become little goldmines of memories. Or has that already happened?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hendrix at Sunrise

The Providence Journal's Subterranean Homepage News projo.com Subterranean Homepage News posted this "Hendrix at Woodstock" story of mine on Sheila Lennon's blog.

Monday Morning, 5am, 1969, at Yazgur's Farm . . . Peace.
Posted by: Meredith Pond on August 15, 2005 1:55 PM

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Sunny Day, a Happy Weekend

Memorial Day when I was growing up included a big parade up Washington Street in Coventry, Rhode Island.

Uncle Rollo would put on his admiral's uniform with all the gold "scrambled eggs" on the visor of his hat and join Benjamin Franklin Tefft and the other two members of the Kentish Guard who were still alive for a ride from Anthony Green to the Town Hall.

They all rode in a covertible waving to the crowds of children, parents, and teenagers lining both sides of the paved road. This was the big time in Coventry.

I don't remember if we had a mayor back then. But I do remember people riding horses, a clown tossing candy to the kids, and my mother and father sitting on lawn chairs with Hopie Hall watching the entire parade from start to finish.

In 8th grade I marched in the parade with the school band playing my flute. My previous public performance was a recitation of "I have a red umbrella," at the Phenix Methodist Church where my grandfather belonged and his sister Marion ran the sunday school. I think I was 5.

These days, I'm not looking for parades. A quiet day at home will do just fine thanks. It's been a while since a weekend arrived with no tasks to do. Well, I could mow the lawn, I guess. Or fire up the grill with tofu pups and veggies.

But the most fun is just sitting out on the deck writing and drinking iced tea and petting Scout. Wanna come over?

We'll think of something to toss on the fire, maybe all my old manuscripts from the MFA program, which started in 1990 when Sean was 10. Now he's going to be 28 in September. Hard to believe. And those manuscripts . . . the fire is waiting.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Poetry on Block Island

An adventure that begins with a ferry ride has an element of magic built in. Visiting Block Island, 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island (where I was born), is like time travel to 19th Century New England with its wraparound porches, old farmhouses, and meadows separated by stone walls. It's a cozy, friendly place.

This trip, I spent a long weekend at the Poetry Project, not far from town. Visiting poets included Mary Oliver, Coleman Barks, Richard Tillinghast, and Valzhyna Mort (who lives right in Alexandria!).

This particular weekend also featured activist visionary astrologer Caroline Casey who introduced us to the playful ways of coyote. We even shared a group howl.

Mary Oliver signed my copy of her new book of poems, Red Bird. Certainly a special moment for me as you can well imagine.

Participants (about 65 total) hailed from Georgia (Atlanta), Connecticut, New York City, Boston, Vermont, etc. To take your car to Block Island costs $93 roundtrip! So most people parked in Galilee, and ferried over on foot.

This was the sixth and final weekend of this year's project. We were busy all day and into the evening, walking from Payne's Harbor View Inn to Smuggler's Cove for special events or riding into town for readings. Meals were communal in a lovely dining room overlooking the fog and ponds.

On a sunny day we would have seen the ocean in the not to far distance. Block Island is only 3 miles around. So you can see the ocean from just about everywhere as long as it's not raining. On the sunny day I arrived, I drove to Mohegan Bluffs and made down and back up the 167 steps to the beach!

For more details, visit the project's Web site. Founder Lisa Starr and her hubby Champ are wonderful and energetic hosts as is their fine dog Brother. Thanks to their efforts, we all had a blast!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Neice Turns 18

Something about a birthday, a special birthday. Like turning 18 for example. Can you remember what that felt like? Just a flicker in your mind?

Well, one of my neices turns 18 today, and she really has her life on track. A senior in a New England high school, she's in the school band, and she's interested in chemistry and forensics. Plus, she's a kind human being.

Marge Helgenberger move over! This teen is ready to make her mark on the world. She's smart, beautiful, and a young woman who knows what she wants.

It's serious stuff turning 18. Here's wishing her the best ever!

Sunday, March 30, 2008


If April is the cruelest -- and also National Poetry Month -- I'd like to spend a few moments here at the end of March talking about March, the tumult, the madness, the suprise host of Eastertime.

It's not easy being the transition month from winter to spring. Even in the DC area, where our winters are nothing like my childhood winters in Rhode Island, spring arrives on howling winds and falling tree branches and dark clouds racing across the sky.

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. It's a Poe moment for me -- black and ominous -- with that raven above the door watching, waiting for me to fall asleep with an unfinished oatmeal cookie on my tv tray.

My dog Scout stands by through all this. He's here right now waiting for his walk. We've got daffodils all over the yard, but it's cold this morning.

Why is this time of year colder than December? I'll never figure that one out. But off I go to follow Scout the length of Elm Street to the park. On the bench under the big oak tree, our favorite spot, the sun will warm us as always.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Day by the Pool

The heat of the sun is not easy to remember when it's 24 degrees outside.

As I pull on my mittens and fuzzy psychedelic gnome hat, I barely make it to my car as the wind barrels up the street and pushes me into my neighbor's industrial-size recycling bins.

But I manage somehow to get in the car, turn up my new favorite music (Ozomatli), crank the heater to uberhigh, and skid down the hill toward the main street.

As unforgiving as an ice storm. As unexciting as a barn door. As slow as molasses in January. Yup. That's my environment, icicles and all.

So why is the title of this blog entry "A Day by the Pool"? Glad you asked. Here's a photo! Let's make the poem "Ode to Cabo."

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cabo in January - Part 1

My third trip to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja California Sur sent me home with a tan and a smile and a glimpse of what a vacation in January really means.

But getting there was no fun at all. To start, I almost didn't make it out of town.

Thursday morning, January 17, I woke up to snowflakes falling and weather reports meandering back and forth from promises of six inches of snow to freezing rain to an ice sheet more dangerous than Antarctica in winter.

There was a chance that the road to the airport would be too dangerous to travel at 4 am the following morning.

Yes, I did say 4 am. My plane was scheduled to leave at 6 am. And international flights -- Baja is officially Mexico even though we say "California" -- take longer to negotiate.

Silly me to worry. The cab made it to the top of the street, we piled in to a toasty back seat, and we made it to National in plenty of time. But Delta's computers were down . . . ugh. At 4:45 am, there was a line like Friday night prime time waiting for check-in. Double ugh.

I should be calm and sure that all will be well, happy to stand in line quietly. Instead, I run up and down looking for a way to cut in line.

Meanwhile my pal Riggin is smiling kindly. She is laid back and mellow waiting with the patience of a biblical character behind the couple traveling to Lourdes with their growling rotweiller and their stinky old pug.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Poets, Writers Join in Birthday Festivities

My 60th birthday on January 5 brought together poets, writers, friends, and colleagues at the Writer's Center in Bethesda for a Saturday afternoon of diverse voices and good company.

Readers included Rose Solari, Bill O'Sullivan, Nan Fry, Cindy Lollar, Ginnie Hartman, Sarah Sorkin, Judith Witherow, Sue Lenaerts, Riggin Waugh, and Mary Beth Hatem. Poets from Rose's spring class at the Writer's Center included Ellen Cole, Laura Goldberg and Amani. And there were a few last minute surprises!

In the audience? About 60 people including my two children, Erin and Sean. They drove down from Philly for the event. And many of my friends from Frederick, MD, attended -- including Anne Garrett and Katherine Jones and Deb Gardner.

And there's much more to come! The image above is the invitation that went out to everyone . . . This was one of the most amazing days of my entire life!