thank you, yes, thank you…

my heart is so full today!  i took the time this morning to really pause and breathe and feel the gratitude bubbling out from within. i am effervescent with it! today, i am so so grateful for…

…the love of a wise, old doggie and the kind, playful spirit of a new kitty

…warmhearted neighbors who bake sweet treats

…patient teachers who give so much


…compassionate students who fill the studio with their yummy energy

…creative crushes who inspire me constantly

…the new lock on the old studio door

…the way even a rainy day can shine a new light on things

…the open arms of friends near and far

…collard greens and root vegetables that remind me of our connection with mama earth


…laughter and wine with fab girlfriends

…the patience of loved ones as i gathered myself this fall

…new paths to wander and new eyes with which to see

…the strength and flexibility of my body and mind, and…

did i mention love? love is the root of it all. love is all there is. love is all we need. there’s more than enough to go around. and the more you give of it, the more you get. how good is THAT.

happy thanksgiving, one and all…



p.s. to the photographer of the picture above. i’m sorry, i don’t know who you are or how your photo made it’s way to my desktop. thank you for letting me use your image. and tell me who you are so i can credit you properly!

singing back to me…

I want you
To know me
To need me
Smile when I call your name

I want you
To never
Look at
Anyone else this way

So strange
This something
We have between us
And it’s not fair
If you’ve never
Loved this way

Anything, anywhere
I would give everything I own away
Always I will sing
Picturing you singing right back to me

I want you
To know that
I will always have you
No matter if never
Physically in my arms again
This love
Is like
Splitting off
Every time I try
To nail it down

Anything, anywhere
I would give everything I own away
Always I will sing
Picturing you singing right back to me

Too bad
The best love hurts so much
But it’s so good yes
The best love hurts so much

Anything, anywhere
I would give everything I own away
Always I will sing
Picturing you singing right back to me

Anything, anywhere
I would give everything I own away
Always I will sing
Picturing you singing right back to me
Sing it right back
Sing it right back
Sing it right back
Back to me
Anything … Anywhere
Anything … Anywhere
Anything … Anywhere
Anything … Anywhere

~ melissa ferrick


today ~ november 19 ~ is the anniversary of my nana’s birth.

she would have been…gosh, terrible as it is i’m not sure…somewhere over 90. she passed in 2003. we had grown distant, and it makes me so sad. but tonite it feels like a story that needs to be told.

it’s a complicated story and the short version is that she lived with my mother. my mother and i haven’t been on speaking terms for over twenty years now, but for a few attempts at a truce or reconciliation that were unfortunately short-lived. there is no real way to write about something like this without feeling guilty. someone will always say i should try harder, or forgive better, or won’t i be sorry when… but they didn’t grow up in my world. and as sad as at is, it’s just not meant to be. i’ve had to learn to trust that instinct within me that says move on and to try to be at peace with it.

but there’s a hole in me. i hole where my mom should be, and where my nana was. she was awesome. funny, foul-mouthed and gentle. i lived with her for many of my growing up years and we spent long summer days together. she loved birds and would stand at her bedroom window in the mornings whistling, mimicking their calls and talking to them.

due to some lifelong vision issues she couldn’t drive, so we’d cab around town. weekly we’d go to the library which i loved so much. it was this huge old stone gothic style building. in my mind’s eye now it is reminiscent of notre dame, though that could just be my imagination. it certainly was cavernous and echo-y with a gigantic stone rotunda at the entrance. to the right was the children’s section and i started with the hard big books and worked my way up to young literature in that room (judy blume and whatnot). to the left was the endless stacks of books.  reference, fiction, non-fiction…row upon row upon row. she was an avid reader, two to three books a week she’d check out of the library. she loved mystery novels. particularly of the crime variety. i didn’t inherit that addiction, but i did inherit her love of books. they make me feel safe. they comfort me, keep me from feeling lonely, teach me things and inspire me.  i adore them, collect them, covet them, and order them compulsively from amazon. amazon’s prime program* rues the day they signed me up, believe me.

after the library we would walk a few blocks down past city hall where she would remind me about my long-lost great-great-uncle that once served the town as mayor. we would also pass the world war II memorial. sometimes we would go and look at it since my grandfather’s name was inscribed on it having served in europe during the war. i’d like to say that these brushes with my genetic history moved me in some way, but really i was so excited to go to friendly’s i could hardly stand it.

if you’re not familiar, friendly’s, is a diner-esque kind of burger and ice cream chain. great crinkle fries. for me and nana though it was all about the lime rickeys. cool and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon. they had a little fizz and if we were feeling extravagant we’d get the raspberry version. we’d sit at a booth and well, hang out. i’m sure i blathered on about whatever little girls talked about. but whatever it was, i always felt heard.

i was with her when john lennon was killed and i remember sitting in her kitchen, the tv on, feeling sad because one of the men who made my song “michelle, my belle” was dead. my first little art studio was in her finished basement, and my watercolors hung – framed – in her living room. i obsessed over the princess diana wedding with her. i watched the whole thing on television and poured over the magazines, convinced i was going to marry that young blueblood and have a fabulous wedding like hers. we’d do exercises with jack lalane and that other lady in the black unitard, she taught me how to shuffle cards, played go fish with me, tolerated my gypsy moth caterpillar “pets”, and was there to catch me when i freaked out about some garter snake that slithered in front of us on the driveway.

but then too quickly i grew up. my mom moved us out-of-state. i started high school, got a boyfriend, and soon nana was just one of the grown-ups that i tried to avoid at the detestable holiday events. as soon as high school was over, i moved out of my mom’s place and ventured out on my own. a car, part-time college, full-time job and nana grew older. she suffered a heart attack and living by herself seemed too much (too much work, too much of a risk?) and she moved in with the one person i was trying so hard not to be around. years went by, she grew more fragile. her skin more papery, her voice more raspy. the oxygen machine a permanent fixture.

the last time i saw her fully alive was about a year before her death. i was sitting next to her at my mom’s, and suddenly i knew deep within the core of my body that this would be it. i started crying. i sat on the floor next to her chair with my head in her lap sobbing. mute. aching with remorse for not having done it all differently. i stayed like that for a long time. she rubbed my head…and i looked up and told her i loved her and left.

i saw her once more, in a nursing home, not quite in a coma but not responsive. she seemed to be troubled, in pain. i held her hand. asked them to give her more medication. soon, she was gone.

it is my only adult experience with death…and i wish i had been more of an adult when the time came. the regret i have is thick with the things i should have done. i wonder what her beliefs were about what was going to happen to her, i wonder what she wishes she’d done, or done differently. what does she remember about our time together? what kind of advice would she have for me now as an adult with adult decisions and responsibilities? would we play gin rummy? would she like my cooking? would i make her laugh?

whatever her beliefs were about where she was going, i know she ended up somewhere where she could reach me. she comes to me when the door is open and usually she doesn’t say much, but i can hear her whistling.


*free two-day shipping for a whole year for only $75! i know that’s not really free but honestly…when you order as many books as i do, it might as well be.

morning with the menagerie…

black smudge – duncan: snore
white puffball – wilson: snore
simone: mew, mew, mew, mew, mew, mew, mew, meeeeeewwwwwww, mew, mew, mew

i’m caring for wilson (who usually lives with my mother-in-love) & simone (more on her soon) this week in addition to duncan*. and thankfully bryan is out of town otherwise there would be NO ROOM for him in the bed. these little puppies take up a lot of space and nighttime is a constant struggle, a sleepy state of ensuring their comfort and lack of disruption. i can only imagine what it will be like once babies make it into the picture…oh. my.

but you know, it makes me so happy having these little creature companions around me all the time and my heart only grows bigger with each addition.


*duncan update! he’s finished with radiation, and the vet is very pleased with the results. the tumour is significantly smaller – from the monster it was, to something far less icky and sinister. it will continue to shrink for two weeks from the last radiation treatment, and we’ve decided to start him on immunotherapy that will hopefully continue to shrink the tumour or at a minimum inhibit growth. he still needs like 6 pills a day, and barely visible is the soft e-collar he needs to wear to protect the delicate skin around his radiation site but other than that, life is really good for him right now. the best part? he’s like he was two years ago! some combination of the medications he’s on, a new diet, the treatment and love/hope…and his eyes are bright and clear and he’s smiling so much now. he even tried to play with his favorite little red bird toy the other night. something he hadn’t done since mid-summer. Yay!

Thank you for all the love & encouragement on our journey with him…

i’m beginning to think…

i’m beginning to think i should move to seattle or the pacific northwest since these rainy days make me feel giddy.

or maybe it’s these boots! hee-hee!


giddiness aside, i actually donned them to go venture into the wild nor’easater blowing its way across the little sandbar we call home. lots of flooding, marooned vehicles, impassable roads, ocean sand two-three blocks away from the beach, and houses on the verge of being taken by the sea. the studio, thankfully, is high and dry, though some lower-lying neighbors aren’t so fortunate. it makes you realize how just 2-3 feet in elevation can really make a difference. for our luck, i am thankful and my heart goes out to those that are struggling with losses this morning.

one of the best things about living in a small community is the way people come out to help each other when there’s a real need. living in this fragile environment, that need arises more that we’d like to see. but thankfully we’re there for each other…

yesterday, i got to see a beautiful great blue heron wading across the lake that was previously my road. i’m not sure she was going to find any fish there but she seemed optimistic about it. more likely, she knows something i don’t.


i need you so much closer…

the atlantic was born today and i’ll tell you how:
the clouds above opened up and let it out.

I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
when the water filled every hole.
and thousands upon thousands made an ocean,
making islands where no island should go.
oh no.

those people were overjoyed; they took to their boats.
I thought it less like a lake and more like a moat.
the rhythm of my footsteps crossing flood lands to your door have been silenced forever more.
the distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
it seems farther than ever before
oh no.

I need you so much closer

I need you so much closer

so come on, come on

~ death cab for cutie, transatlanticism

this life is sacred…

duncan portrait shirley

my sweet little duncan doggie has terminal cancer. oral malignant melanoma. common to dogs his sex, age, breed, color…he basically had all the risk factors. we drive him weekly to raleigh, nearly 4 hours each way, for radiation treatment. he gets 6 pills a day now…for pain, for infection, for his doggie alzeihmers, for his incontinence. we are starting him on neoplasene (a holistic therapy) made from bloodroot. he can no longer eat hard food or greenies. but he is more lively than he’s been in months. he smiles more now, and comes to visit for snuggles and hugs more often. at night he sleeps curled up by my feet, my heart, my head…and the sweet snoring that i love, is also now a reminder of the tumour that is growing/shrinking within his little throat.

all this driving back and forth to raleigh gives me time to think. i wonder how much time we have? are we doing the right thing by him? have i been a good mama to him? yesterday i did the drive alone with duncan. he rested on the seat next to me and i had my right hand on his little body the whole way there and back. telling him he was loved and he was going to get better.

i remembered something. nearly 20 years ago, an old roommate told me a story about his dog. he came home from college for christmas break and his parents broke the news to him that his dog was dying with just a short time left to live. for all of break he slept with the dog. curled up on the floor in the kitchen and slept there wrapped around his best friend. he loved and loved and loved her…and the dog began to get better. my friend decided to stay home from school that spring, he wanted to be present with her as she transitioned and he spent every moment he could with his dog. and you know what? she lived. and for a good long time after that…

i know it’s a miracle. but it gives me hope. did he know what he was doing? or was it just the purity of his love for her that healed her?  i wonder what he whispered to her late in the night… and i hope somehow i can find those magic words that will keep little duncan with us for a good long time…

as i write this, i’m aware that a friend here is mourning the sudden loss of her good friend over the weekend, and that my new friend pixie is also possibly spending the last days with her beloved blue dog. this morning i read  jen gray‘s blog and was struck by these thoughts she had on the perspective we get when death touches us…and sometimes passes us by:

All those things,
the things of worry
the things of annoyance
the things of sadness
the things of distraction…

All those things that fill my mind day in and day out,
were immediately silenced.

And what replaced that space
has been a continued mantra of “this life is holy…this life is sacred…this life is to be cherished…”

The reality of this perspective has hit me so hard it’s taken my breath away.
(And it hasn’t given it back yet.)”

duncan may be “just a dog” to some, but i don’t value his life any less than i would if he were a person. he’s been my kid, and my teacher. he’s truly been the single constant in my life over the past 14 years. he’s been on my lap, at my feet, or in my backpack for endless adventures. he helped me grow up and he gave me stability when i needed it most. he makes me laugh with all his little idiosyncracies and habits and i’m so deeply honored he picked me so many years ago…

so hug your animals close. and your kids… your spouse… your lover… your friends…

this life is sacred.