Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Annie at my favorite restaurant, The Garden Restaurant at the Art Institute of Chicago. Beautiful, elegant, and wonderful food. As my mother took me there as a child, so I am able to continue the tradition and bring my lovely Anna.
no shortage of beautific Buddhas at the Art Institute
We figured out that Des Plaines stands for "the planes!!!!!". They are the state bird of Illinois,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

a poem for you: Now I become myself.

Now I become myself.  It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there.

Now I stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density...

My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love,
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I , the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

-by Mary Sarton

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jack Wiler Discusses Monster Rats

Another friend on You Tube--Jack alerted us on his blog that he was interviewed for a show on the History Channel on Monster Rats in his capacity as a NY Exterminator. Check it out if you aren't the squeamish type. To hear some of these guys talk, you could feed a family on one of these critters.....


Barak visits Ami's School

lorenzo has a full-ride scholarship to the college of his choice this fall....against some pretty significant odds.
Barak listened to individual reports by students and gave them feedback.
Barak with students at Mapleton School

Ami meets Barak Obama
Barak hanging out with students

Denver Venture School: http://www.denverventureschool.org/

The first time I saw Ami, she was sitting quietly (one might say, contemplatively, now that I know her better!) in the teacher's lounge at Lakeshore Elementary School.  She was a student teacher then, and during our first conversation I learned that she was already choosing among several job offers. That is the way it has been for Ami ever since; you see, she is a powerful combination of ambitious career woman, social activist and Buddha Mama (with a little Mary Poppins thrown in, Indian style). Ami taught at Lakeshore for a couple of years and then moved to Denver, sensing the need for a more diverse, urban community. She continued teaching the elementary level, then became a teacher coach, and then an assistant principal. She told me a story about a terrible day when she found herself in the middle of a huge gang fight, with police cars and ambulances and injured kids. Ami had never seen a fight before, and it must have been terrible for her, but it also, like everything in life, brought her farther along, and made her stronger. Ami has mentored students who no one thought would amount to anything, and they are amounting to a great deal with her support and love.  This is why I know that her new high school in Denver is going to be a great success. I got to visit her school, freshly painted by 60 volunteers one weekend, while in Denver. We were with our friend Russ, who teaches in a very tony district in Connecticutt, and he was struck by the humble circumstances from which her new school is being born. This is a free charter school and the focus is on entrepreneurship.  I encourage you to check out the Denver Venture School link (I put it on the subject line of this post)  and see for yourself. The video, in which students are interviewed, is inspiring. Best wishes to my Ami as she begins this new chapter. I am betting on this school being amazing with her at the helm.
Oh, I must tell you, too, that Barak Obama visited her old school in June, and she was able to meet him and watch him in action with students. He spent the entire day there, folks. She said of him: "he is the real deal." 
With people like Ami and Barak out there, I know we can do anything.

trains, planes, and automobiles (oh, and shuttles, footpaths and a little levitating)

Hello, All,
As I write this, Bella is trying to convince me to play with her by waving her toy Skunkie in my face. This toy was a gift from her Aunt Barb, who spoiled her way past imagining when I was gone, right down to getting her icecream from Capt Sundae's on her last night at the Malis's.  Bella no doubt experienced a level of nurturing, care and joy equal to mine on our vacations. Thanks, Barb and Joe and Ollie and Leo, for taking my little knucklehead into your home and hearts and treating her like one of your own. When I die, I want to come back as one of Barb's pets.

Shambhala didn't disappoint. It was as challenging an endeavor as I have ever taken on-physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually--came out of it feeling stronger, lifted up, I hope a little wiser. I met some incredible women, like Tory, a free-lance correspondent who has traveled a great deal, and continued this habit at Shambhala by walking the perimeter's 6 mile path before any of us got to the breakfast tent one morning. Full of humor, heart and wisdom, her stories of her adventures kept us captivated.

Also Joan, a woman who took me for a walk one morning when my tears were blinding me and showed me a broken tree that had such life and new growth that it inspired her each time she looked at it. This tree, she said, was a metaphor for her life. Joan's smile was serene and radiant and I knew she meant it when she said her life is beautiful now.

I could go on and on--there were 15 of us all together, and as always happens in these kinds of situations, my ignorance and fear at the beginning told me how different (unique?) I was, and five days later, we were all the same, all the same. 

Friday, July 4, 2008

on the road to shambhala

I think that song was by 3 dog night....and speaking of golden oldies, my beloved classmates, the Gateway Gators, are having their 38th class reunion tomorrow. I will be raising a glass with them in spirit (nonalcoholic, of course) and wishing I could be there. I send my best to all of you. My friend Jack is writing about that place and that time on his blog and his funny and sweet reminisces are such a joy. there were lots of interesting people in the class of '70, that's for sure.

Anyway, I really am on the road tomorrow, back to Shambhala Mountain Center, 600 acres north of Ft Collins, CO, a Buddhist retreat I first visited last November. The interesting building in the picture is the Stupa, which contains an 18 foot high golden Buddha which is a sight to see.  This time, it is for a women's yoga retreat, and I will have the great joy of twisting myself into hideous contortions and meditating with a roomful like-minded females.  I will also be able to spend some decent time with my friend Ami Desai, with whom I will be making a road trip to Taos and hanging out with at her place in Denver. She's the one with the beautiful teahouse in her back yard (see pics of said yard and Amos engrossed in a book)  and Buddhas everywhere. I have known Amy for fifteen years and I treasure our friendship. So, the estrogen and patchouli oil will be flowing and I have packed not only my incense and peppermints, but some Aleve, too, because I just saw the daily schedule and it's Hippie Girl bootcamp for me!

Wishing you all a beautiful Independence Day and hoping that you are in the ranks of the free.