Questions for Quarantine

We actually don’t have all the time in the world.

“Stay at home” is a great teacher, and a flawless mirror of our life choices, thus far.  I think we are being challenged to open up the heavy bound book of MY LIFE and to push on past the chapters headed in Bold type with names such as:

“I don’t like, I can’t or I can… but I won’t.”

 It’s time to turn ourselves over, upside down or inside out to see what has been discarded on the rush to get out your latest and slickest version of:

ME 10.6.

What mysterious packages of carefully sequestered “consciousness of self” are waiting to be unwrapped? Not the stomach-churning self conscious embarrassments of childhood, but the grand wisdom, the knowledge of your true self, the eons of DNA experience, the spirit that you rode in on, the one you hide because it just isn’t…. convenient. What excruciatingly clear understanding of yourself, and what you came here to do, have you left unopened and forgotten until today? If we just take the time.

Is there a small voice of a child, “Don’t you remember?” Or the wise elder that waits down the path calling out to you saying,

“So tell me again, why didn’t you do that??”

One thing is certain, if you don’t ask the question, the answer is left to its own devices to make itself known. And it usually does; in increasingly aggravating ways. But, that is a different story for another time. Free choice is impressively creative, as long as it is exercised regularly. If we just take the time. 

What could you hear if you were to allow yourself to connect with the “inside” of YOU? Think of velvet; smooth on one side, woven of a thousand threads on the other. The same fabric, the same being, from a different perspective. You could try it for a moment. Bring your attention to a spot inside your body, your heart works well.  It has a lot of memory and it’s very interactive! Take a few good breaths, close your eyes and ask an open-ended question like “What have I forgotten about myself?”

  If you ask yourself a deep question and get an immediate, “Yo?” hollered back to you. Be patient. You are not looking for the quick superficial voice that rolls off your tongue from the front of your brain. There are no snappy responses from deep still waters. It’s an “inside the heart” adventure, with no masks. You are seeking a slow, soft voice. The part of you that stands steadfastly minding the place where a piece of your soul was left along the road. This is your destination.

It is the feeling of being underwater with your eyes open.  The upper world moves away, sound becomes liquid. Gravity loses its grip and your hair floats about your head in graceful plumes. You realize, “This is what hair could look like!” Streamers of refracted light chose their target, illuminating for an instant a single aspect of your own inner reality with exquisite clarity. 

This “stay at home”, quarrantine time, has wrought bloody battles with fear and mortality. Maybe the task of this time is to go inside and stay inside? I think the Angels of Transformation have devilish senses of humor, but the instructions couldn’t be more clear! Ask the question “Why am I here, and how can I do what I came here to do?” You have the tools, and the time. You might find gold or at least a bit of lead to begin the alchemy?

This worldwide pause has gifted some of us with the miracle of QUIET time. Our lives have moved from speedy staccato rhythms to the low rumble of a Blue Whale heart.  Sun up to sun down we have the opportunity to celebrate the “inside” of our lives.  Let’s take back our freedom to be holistic humans experiencing a LIFE in all its potential and possibility.

Finding Your Way In the UK

Despite a medical emergency and an evolving pandemic we have had a gentle time of it here in Molesey, UK. As a result of unexpected eye surgery, our trip home was postponed, for a month. At first glance this was an “impossibility,” but that’s the beauty of the no choice scenario. It has to work, and therefore it does. It’s a bit like “stay at home” for the indefinite future. The words are only inconceivable, the first time around.

Our friend drove our car and our two big dogs from Florida to New York, as taking them home with her was their only good choice. London colleagues offered support and creative contingencies, even as their own lives were turned inside out. New friends and old friends checked in on our progress. We were all stumbling into uncharted territories. Thankfully the intangible called Civility is still practiced here.

Yes, it had its dicey moments. Room service trays became suspect. Towels and trash were traded at the door to limit everyone’s exposure. Two of our hotels closed, the last literally locked the door behind us. Another was volunteered for medical workers. The need for all of us to “stay at home” went from unlikely to probable to imminent across a few days. We said, “Yes, thank you!” for the connection of colleagues and friends and the silver linings appeared almost before the cloud showed up.

We found an AirBnB, a small house with a patch of yard, a sunny kitchen and friendly neighbors. Interestingly enough just a mile or two from Henry the VIII’s former residence on the Thames, 12 miles upstream from our start in central London. A food shop was walkable. “Who sneezed on my food?” was no longer a concern.

Molesey Heath

The materials of a comfortable “exile” arrived; in the equipment of more convenient work space, a hamper of exquisite delicacies fit for “the neighbors at Windsor” and the makings of a very favorite cocktail. Each reflected a particular expertise, a personal choice, all steeped in thoughtfulness. Safety and gratitude go nicely with a crisp white wine and good olives.

We have found ourselves sustained in our brief moments of homelessness with graciousness and generosity from a value system that once ruled the world. This experience could have felt very different. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs were met beautifully, and with good humor. We have been held in practical, elegant and memorable ways and we are very grateful.

Heeding the Heath

We are here in the UK, ready to go home to Florida, I hope. The world has changed so much since we boarded the plane six weeks ago. I’ve been given the opportunity to look at the reaction to this pandemic from another culture’s perspective and from an alternative version of myself.

I was at a workshop in Scotland when I heard the eye injury news. I was packed up and sent off to my personal emergency with warm hugs and promises of prayer and connection. I was worried, fragile as a cracked egg, and yet I was absolutely confident that all would be well in whatever form it would take.

My partner was alone in an Emergency Department scenario, in a foreign- to-him city, shocked by the loss of half his vision and facing surgery. He was supported by friends and colleagues, certainly a safety net and I was on my way. But it was very stressful for him to navigate Taxis and hotels on one eye. It was an all new experience, but there was an end in site. He had awareness of the events of the world, but Covid-19 was not at the forefront of his mind.

Yes, both of us were experiencing an awakening to a frightening new reality, but our perceptions were different, because our nervous systems were in different states. Contrast this with the experience of watching the CNN report in our hotel dining room when I got back to London.

Amongst the shocking headlines of March 12, 2020

“We are experiencing a worldwide pandemic and President Trump has suspended travel between the US and Europe.”


We sat in the “still open” restaurant and ate the last dinners served there. The barrage from CNN on the wall was continuous, it could have been monotonous, had it not been so terrifying. Everything was repeated in a loop, over and over. For the first time, I felt the cold hand of fear on my neck and a cascade of “what if …!” possibilities rolled through my mind, courtesy of CNN US.

The Coronavirus pandemic will be a great teacher of many things, including what a steady diet of Fear will do to your nervous system. A daily or all day dose of manipulative Fear via news channels, and constant rumination on victim numbers and you will have fried your nervous system. You are awash in stress hormones and your immune system is stressed. Don’t take my word for it. Google: relationship, nervous system, immune system to find the expert opinion of your choice.

We need to evolve behind survival mode. I have seen smiling neighbors, friendly greetings from 2 meters, even openness. I like this reality better, the one that I can add to; the best that I have to offer.

It isn’t a question of who is right, as it is a question of what world do you wish to inhabit? What body do you wish to occupy? Perhaps the best motivator for coherent attuned action is concern for another, and the best antidote to fear is connection to others, without judgement. In this extraordinary time, this is my hypothesis and I am doing the research.

I’ve had a month to think about this. A quiet introspective month of “stay at home” activities in someone else’s home in a different town and country. There have been no overdue projects, no gardening or reorganizing the garage. It’s an extraordinary potential that I have always had, I just didn’t respect the concept of “being,” as much as I was aligned to “doing.”

We found an AirBnB, a small house with a patch of yard, and a good kitchen. It backs up unto a naturalized area called Molesey Heath. At 17.6 Hectares (44 acres), the entire neighborhood could go walking simultaneously and we would be barely within a “wave and a nodding” distance. Healthy calming activity for families and I have heard this questioned as “inappropriate or irresponsible in US venues.”

The Heath supports lots of sharp brambles and swarms of birds. Pithy Willows covered in thick ivy edge the ponds for ducks and visiting swans. Children and dogs remember their wild natures in open grassy meadows, as their parents follow along. It is well walked and very absorbent of excess anxieties.

And yet, the Heath has not always been so green. Its generative nature has suffered some hard blows and survived. In the past half century it was a quarry. That empty space was filled with people’s garbage, it was used as a landfill. Due to its continuing methane production, this land cannot be used for development. Its high level of pollution is what maintains the Heath as a green space. Walking this battle scared land gives a new perspective; it has been stripped of its structure, stuffed with toxic trash, and it still supports life. I believe the spirit of transformation has talked with me on my walks, and I have listened, I hope. “We are a whole lot tougher than we think.”

Our “keeper of the left brain” has an injured and malfunctioning right eye. His surgeon explained that visual improvement will hinge on the ability of his brain to modify the sight and his brain’s interpretation of this information from his formerly dominant right eye. It was a relationship that fit so nicely with his dominant left brain thoughts, like math and language. In order for vision to improve, a change in perspective must evolve. He will have to lean in to the right; into the land of creativity and expansiveness. I expect this means that I should lean to the left, just a wee bit.

After delivering this very mixed bag of information, his eye surgeon turned to me, “What do you think?” he said. “When the quarantine ends do you think it will go back to the way it was? When we were so busy all the time? I live out in the country and I am enjoying the time I can spend outside with my children so much. I don’t think I will want to go back.”

And there it is. This is someone whose nervous system is intact. He is able to ask this question because he feels safe and supported in his environment even though he is a “front line worker” standing in a hospital in London where any, or many people could potentially hold an illness that could harm him or his family.

How is it that he is able to experience an existential opening that potentially could alter his entire life, in the midst of this scenario? Because he recognizes that the illness is just the vehicle, for the inspiration. It is just the reason for change, we have to make the change ourselves. It is our job to be inspired to reach out and create a different life, if that’s what you want. If not, the elevator to normality is downstairs, on the left but the line is long and tedious.

Ask yourself-Does it make sense to constantly bring unbridled fear into the news reports everyday? Does it make sense to watch it?

The Virus is as unaware of the catastrophe that it is causing, as the people are who killed the animals that carried it. They thought it was dinner. To waste your energy on fear is to waste this opportunity to create a different experience, to evolve. And the price has been dear.

This illness is only the vehicle, it is the opportunity. Don’t get caught being stuck on the vehicle of transformation like a bug on the windshield. Don’t let anyone hijack your nervous system.

And let’s be real here, if only for this moment.

We hold complete disregard for all the other creatures that live here with us. We kill plants, animals, trees, everything without thought, or sympathy. Why should we think we are immune to an event like this? It is a very great privilege to be a human being, and it is an impermanent one.

The Heath told me this:

It’s time to tend your own garden. You could choose to enjoy this.

Take good care of one another, this too is joyful! Take good care of your families. Take good care of your thoughts, let them be expressed, gently.

Put your children back on your lap, put the dolphins back in the sea, read a lot, and most important of all, love yourself.

The Heath

The Grace of Trees

“I had a walk in a beautiful garden today,”  I wrote in my notebook.  The garden is Syon Park, a private place that using my American sensibilities, belongs to the same family, more or less, for hundreds of years.  This 20 acres of verdant English Garden goodness is open to the public with a paid ticket, and to the surrounding community with a subscription pass.  A quiet back gate was available to me. This unexpected magnificence was due to an arrangement with the Hilton property that was our temporary address during this siege of virus versus humanity. Good health and good will pulsed there amidst swaying daffodils and ancient wood. I found my way there at least once a day and sometimes more. 

TreesSyon Park – w:

On the first day we found an enthusiastic garden intern struggling with the muddy division of a deeply rooted clump of perennials.  She clearly knew the plants personally and was happy to introduce by name. By the next day there were only the signs of work, all tending had ceased. Wheelbarrows were tucked into leafy corners, and piles of trimmed branches and vines stood waiting, like our room service trays that were left outside the door to be picked up “sometime later.” It became rare to see any other people on the rustic and formal paths.

Syon House and garden has had a colorful past. I was surprised to find that Pocahontas, came to visit in 1616 and stayed nearby.  

Pocahontas in England

With her father’s medicine man, and a dozen other support staff from her own “kingdom,” they came to be seen. In current retrospect, this journey was intended to raise funds for the failing Jamestown experiment by showing how the indigenous “savages” of the New World could be civilized and christianized and reimagined as allies.  This entourage would have walked this same ground, as guests of their  Syon Park host, just like me. 

Pocahontas, whose real name was Amonute, didn’t make it home again.  The respiratory illness that made London unhealthy for her, and initiated her move from the city to the healthier countryside surroundings, claimed her life. Sailing down the Thames almost within reach of the open sea, she died of a Pnuemonia or TB type illness on March 21, 1617 at the age of 21. She was buried in Gravesend an “ancient town on the Thames,” that some believe was named after the Bubonic plague killed 100,000 Londoners. 

 Human history is interesting but it was the trees captured my attention. Invincible, nearly immortal trees live here. Massive in size, behemoths all, they are matriarchs and patriarchs of their own family lines.   Despite their unusual size, their bark and outlines were familiar to me, as many were transplanted from Eastern North American. 

They are the largest, oldest trees of their particular breed in the UK.  These are called “Champion Trees” here. As the young gardener told me, “Even the people at Kew Gardens come HERE to see our trees,” as she pointed to a Swamp Cypress with the girth of a Sequoia. 

These trees garner such respect that some of the bones of this tree community, are left where they fell after death.  A swirling base of an ancient Weeping Willow, the very heart of the tree, lies recumbent in a naturalized field of yellow daffodils.  On another day I could image children climbing over her, reaching for footholds on this imaginary mountain. Everyone knows that Willows; especially the Weeping kind, love children, and the feeling is mutual. 

I leaned into these gracious beings in this strange time. Unexpectedly a few days later, we were “dislodged” so to speak. This Hilton property had contracted with the UK National Health Service to put up their “soon to be needed” hospital staff in this hotel. An excellent place for their upcoming guests, and a welcome reprieve from impending closure and hotel staff layoffs. I asked a nervous front desk host if the garden would remain open for these frontline people?  “Indeed,” he said. It was their plan to continue to leave the back gate accessible to their guests, despite the lock out of local residents. Physical distancing of a different variety was about to be initiated. And in the strange synchronicities are our standard, we left Syon Park on the 403 year anniversary of Amonute’s death.

The tree “rule of thumb” is simple:  “As Above, So Below.”  Roughly what is seen above the dirt has a mirror image; below the dirt.  They have survived, even thrived throughout human turmoil because they have both. They are deeply rooted in the Earth, and extending themselves upward, reaching to the heavens at the same time. Sounds like a good plan. 

May we weather this storm with our grace intact

Thank You Dorothy MacLean

So here we are.

Is it a place of horrific reckoning? Or a place of deep contemplation and regard for what we hold dear. Is it a fearsome challenge to maintain our personal status quo? Or is there a soft voice that whispers, “We are one, all is well.” It is long after time to remember what powerful beings we actually are, when we see ourselves, in each other.

Last week at this time I was stepping in to a circle; of unusual people, of potent possibility, of unlimited potential. The scene was set: Northern Scotland, at Cluny Hill, a former hotel near the town of Forres. A retreat, a workshop aptly named “Living Your Life Purpose.” It was facilitated with skill, transparency and boundless, undisguised love by two long time residents and practitioners of the Findhorn qualities of consciousness and exquisite attunement to others.

I had powerful sweet roommates, ate vegetarian and took multiple walks in the forest everyday. We sat in a circle for 8 hours a day, took meals and tea together, and sorted out our personal snarls in the safe and loving hands of our fellow travelers.

This week finds us in London. I was plucked out 2 days early when my soul mate and life’s partner experienced a detached retina. I watched Scottish landscape speed by before dawn. Edinburgh came and went. An exiting Scottish gentleman offered his single window seat in a sun beam, seeming to know I would prefer quiet landscape to the 4 seater socializing. Tiny Spring lambs tucked into thick early grasses belied human emergency. I wondered then, “How long will they live?” In the cab I read on my phone that a friend and Reiki mentor had returned to light, passing peacefully as my train pulled into the King’s Cross Station.

Surgery was done on Friday the 13th in London. On the same day, Dorothy Maclean, the last remaining founders of the Findhorn Community, the largest Eco-community in the world also returned to light.

It is our turn to co-create the world we want to. live in. I will remember the dance of freedom created by unique individuals that chose to be in that circle. Held by and holding each other, we were our best versions of ourselves. It is an invitation. Or you could panic, reach for scarcity and fear. Your choice, I’ll be sitting over here in LOVE if you need a hand.

Peeking Behind the Gossamer Curtain

Three years ago on this day, on a silent clear night in northern New York, we stood quietly around the suddenly still body of our amazing Mother. She died there in the wee hours, in a gentle handoff from the physical folk to the ethereal extended family. It seemed to me then that she somehow exhaled herself into the next realm. Her arrival was planned, practiced and practical; her fragile body was beginning to deteriorate. Once she could no longer walk in the woods or kayak the edges of water, it was time to move out.

Her Spirit died into the next world while the moon was overhead. Her earthly remains left her 14th story “tree house” for the last time in the mid-afternoon of that same day. Lovingly tended by her daughters, just as our Grandmothers would have done, she appeared little changed.  It seemed she was just finding her new abilities, illuminated, but just so much happier. Dressed in her favorite gown, itself a shiny beige veteran of two grandchildren’s weddings, with warm socks, she held tightly curled fern fronds and flowers from a Spring that hadn’t yet arrived.  She had gone on: “To my next adventure.”

It was our job as children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, neighbors and friends to wave good-bye, preferably smiling. If you couldn’t muster that, no worries, she was going anyway. In her last gaze I think she saw all, understood all, felt all, everything that everyone did was all- O.K. in her book. Had she been alive, she would have taken just the tiniest nibble from those ferns, …just because they were so beautiful.


Fern Carol Martell 2010

“I am ready for my next adventure”

These were the words she used to explain why she was ready to die, and why she would go willingly. I believe she was still smiling when her “earth skin” was slipped into the plain pine box of her own choosing. It was Amish plain pine, freshly sanded and unfinished. By necessity it stood overnight in a funeral home surrounded by gilded guilt and the heavy décor of regretful sadness.

Her casket; if you would call it that, stood proud and simple. Had she still been there she would have remarked about the grain of the wood, caressed it with her hand, her long arthritic fingers seeking the lifeforce, reminiscent of ET’s heart touching scene. Wood grains were a passion with her! She would have found the rough place I remember seeing. That sticky knot that made me wonder if this pine box was still planks when she died?

I remember we opened the dark shades in the “room of sadness.” We opened the top of her box to tuck in bits of memory; tiny flowers and the secret missives from her favorite fans. I recall a flash of future déjà Vu that I would recall that exact moment in the future, which is today.

“My Angels Were Here”

My Mom was unusual in that she welcomed death into her life with curiosity, anticipation and a smile. While others may choose to clutch and cling to their life with the last drug and surgery, she opened the door to the next life with intention. She made her path clear of medical interventions, she asked for comfort and respect, and not much else.

She entertained the angels of transit into the next life quite regularly. She left notes to this effect, found later tucked into “must read” books and under cushions that we would move, “after.” I imagine she offered her visitors a keen interest in the subject of afterlife, and a cup of herbal tea. They seemed to stop in frequently, in her dreams, and at the edge of sleep; appearing from behind what she described as “gossamer curtains.” Those words always accompanied by a graceful arm movement that denoted her feeling the fabric and a subtle sense of the sound of bells.

They came to gently welcome her to her new existence, we mused. It was not unusual in the months before she passed to see her eyes shine in anticipation for her path, and in compassion for ours, as it was revealed. She kept it mostly to herself except when my path crossed theirs at her front door and the mystical mist still lingered about her.

Three years later I have grown skin back over the wound of loss. This is not a victim place, it is the work of grieving. Grief is love that echoes back at us when its target can’t be found. It takes a bit of time before we can scratch out the old address for our loved ones and forward our thoughts to:

Mom, Your Next Adventure, Somewhere in the Ethers, 87503

Now I can look at her transformation with appropriate joy. I can appreciate what a renegade she was; a consummate explorer in the unknown realms. Or did she know exactly where she was going because she had already been there?

Whatever the case, from my current position of safety and observation I can ask:

Where is it written that death must be faced with fear and pain, angst and anguish? At the end of a life, one could choose acceptance. I believe there is another paradigm that exists in parallel to the no hope “Grim Reaper” cheat death scenario. I want to take the Angel option; beautiful beings providing whatever you need for a sweet transition “Into your next adventure.”

Loving conductors, great music and sweet peace? Interested? Ask them.

I think my Mother works there, her name is Gloria.

In Search of…Revisited Again


The Devas hold the schedule, I hold the hose.

I am accustomed to tending my own garden of Psyche daily. I work each morning as a medieval monk tending the medicinal herb garden. It’s solitary work. Strong medicines need quiet voices and patient hands. In this garden of “Know thyself,” and it’s corollary “Know Everyone Else”, the Devas hold the schedule, I hold the hose.

I seek the smallest of keys, the softest of voices whose demands create heaven or hell here on earth. I am a devotee of the siren called Relationship. Without relationship, love is lost, if love is lost; all is lost. The answers to the “good life” quest are all right there, floating in the rich soup of interrelatedness. It is appropriate then, to find myself here. Queries of life should be answered in the field, library research is far too easy, far too clean. It is a shock to witness the deep clouds of aged aloneness that are all around me. Their solitary presence as palpable as the gnat that floats in my coffee, right under my nose.

Why do so many fragile elders live out such lonely endings to their “Well-lived” Lives?

These are the superfluous thoughts that I ponder in my garden. In Florida, the hearing is hard and time runs short-endlessly. Thoughts are cheap; connection requires deep attention and careful listening. If I wish to hear them, I will. Once heard, I will have to listen, and I already know the sound is deafening.



Indo-European, Sanskrit word for God, originally thought of as feminine. The modern word Goddess has changed connotations to represent a lesser form of divinity. Deva had the meaning we typically think of as the word God today, however God was thought to be the Great Mother.In Buddhism Devas are highly evolved beings who inhabit different levels of existence. Devas are commonly associated with great beauty and bliss.Modern New Age versions of Deva’s are thought of similarly to angels, nature spirits, or fairies. Pronounced Day-va.

Is there anybody there?


In the heat of August, our 1960’s era Florida ‘hood seemed nearly abandoned. Air conditioning and cicadas hummed in unison, shades pulled against the relentless sun; we are all hunkered down in our separate oasis. In gentler October, I came to discern the fainter life force: there are many more people here than meet the eye. Empty carport and weekly mowing does not necessarily denote a Michigan snowbird’s empty winter escape. Is it a clever vacation timer changing channels in the late night TV glow across the street? Or is there a gnarled hand on a sticky remote picking endlessly at the arm of a single recliner in that darkened room? When I look at the blank face of that picture window, I wonder what looks back at me.

By November, my own lack of critical agenda mixed with the timeless energies and endless ebbing of those in 30-year retirements. Only then did I begin to hear them. I accepted the possibility that hearts too fragile to be “out and about” lived amongst us; close by and yet unseen. Yes, some of our neighbors have been here a very, very long time. Current wisdom calls this “Aging in place.” With enough resources one can stay home until you die, sometimes alone, sometimes leaving another alone for the first time in many years. Sadness and fear are the concrete reinforcement of loneliness, once hardened, it must be hard to get free.

How can I help and why don’t I want to?

An opportunity to interact with a silent neighbor arrived via Postal indiscretion. West became East and switched mail brought an impromptu visit from a frail neighbor. I didn’t recognize the Deva in the background right away. She stood no taller than my chin. Her razor sharp blue eyes shimmered above the optimistic swash of pink cheeks. Our visitor knocked on the door with authority belying her tiny stature. I was surprised by the friendly face; she took that in stride; she needed to sit down. Lowering herself into the nearest chair, she announced herself and her mission. Panting a bit, she noted my painting of wings on the wall nearby and identified herself as a fellow painter and designer.

Had I not been wearing my Florida Fairy foiling earmuffs, I would have identified her immediately as one of the “nature folk” or “faerie people.” Diminutive in size but powerful in Spirit, these beings are part of mythology worldwide. Mythology means “replaced by a different idea,” it doesn’t mean “extinct.” It has been my experience that occasionally one of these Folk will drop into our amplitude to whisper in our ear


or whack us up the back of the knees while screeching “WAKE UP!” directly into our hearts. She had appeared at our doorstep having trekked down a half block on slippered feet to deliver a bulk rate package gone amiss.

“He” was just out of the hospital that very afternoon from a hernia operation. The timing of this sortie was just so untimely. I was so taken by this elf in my living room and the stream of wordless language flowing out of her that I forgot myself and offered her whatever help I could.

“Oh no, we’re fine. He just isn’t feeling very well.” She said. Another sign of the Wee Folk; reverse hyperbole.

Then I heard the Deva, “She wants you to come with her…”

I walked her home, offering first to drive the span of four driveways and a street. She reminded too much of the gentle gray doves we see splayed out on the road because they just won’t hurry. She told me of his stomach pains and his surgery, her cancer and her painting, “He” was installed on the couch when we got back. There would have been surprise on his face as we walked in together, but it would have taken too much strength. He was saving what he had to speak gently to his partner.


He told me he came here for the small airport; he was a pilot then. She said they bought the house for the pool; so much fun for his grandchildren. He said, “They are grown now, haven’t been here in such a long time, but they used to like to come.”

There were ghosts of good times watching them; the reapers of regret piling their sheaves high. I sat and listened. I learned about life and longing and love. I called on every angel I knew to help them, and to help me know how to leave this house without bundles of baggage that I didn’t pack.

She showed me the pool; vacuum bubbling away on its appointed rounds. When had someone had last jumped into that clear water? Was there ever sand on the floor and food in the fridge? When was there last a child sleeping in the three empty guest rooms with sheets on the beds? My silent questions were sucked into flocked walls and thick carpet and left unanswered. The density in the room dared me to stay longer.

“No food, no wine, no fun!”


She waved at the artwork layered on bookshelves and the cases of small cans of liquid diet stacked in the Formica kitchen. Paints were laid out on a card table in the sun. “Do you paint now?” I asked. She said smiling, “Not in a long time, my back hurts too much.”

I asked if it was hard to not eat food anymore, cancer had taken that too. “No food, no wine, no fun!” she said.

I sat for a while in their living room taking in the dire straits in this home. Health completely gone, mobility quickly disappearing, they were collectively a ship with ravaged sails facing an oncoming storm. I looked for despair but couldn’t find it, neither could I feel anger. It did seem that sadness took up the best part of the couch. The professional part of me asked, “How long could these two support each other and their own disabilities?”

The partner part of me knew the real answer: until “Death do they part”, and probably beyond.

I walked home with my bundle of information in a language I didn’t understand. It was heavy and bulky, it smelled a bit rancid. I resented carrying it home, but I did. I put it in my studio room under an unfinished painting. I hoped they would talk between themselves and get back to me on its meaning.


Well they did. It came to me in the form of a recommended article from a dear old friend from my ancient past. A fellow sojourner in the early days of our “We can do more.” The basic theme was: ideas in the Ether, stay in the ether, unless they are processed via focus and form into concretized products. She wrapped love around that article and sent it out. This my friend, is the product of that bundle. Thank you

To our silent neighbors all around

I know you are there, I hear you and I send you love


January 20,2016

I revisited this story written when we lived in Venice Florida

Our tiny sweet lady’s husband died shortly after this was written, she followed, just a bit later. One of the children moved into all those empty bedrooms with a shiny clean pool.

Our “across the street” invisible TV watching gentleman also died that winter while we were away for a weekend. Turns out he did have family. Shortly after, I was holding the hose on some parched Gardenias when I saw a young man move away from the foul voices of the “house emptying crew. ” He moved behind the dumpster to sit on the back bumper of an old van. Out of sight of the the others, he bent over and sobbed a river of tears into his hands, shoulders heaving; it was a heartbreaking scene.

All that sadness, anger, depression, whatever the emotions that existed in that living room must have been still there. There’s always someone in each family who chooses, or is chosen to hold that basket. The house had been foreclosed upon, those that went in didn’t stay long inside. The living conditions inside were just that bad.

I said a prayer for this sad boy and I thought our tiny neighbor from the wee folk was right there next to me. When we were done, she looked up at me with a look that told me, “You don’t understand now…but you will.” She patted my arm, gave a little wink and walked back up the street to her old house. I was happy to see a bit of Spring in her step now.

January 25, 2020

And Florida continues to teach, thanks for the lessons my friends.

I know you are there, I hear you and I send you love

All paintings by Odilon Redon (