Archive for the ‘Dog Journal’ Category

I’m In Love!

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I never thought I’d become one of those women who flips out the grandchild pictures every chance she gets.

“Give me a break,” I thought. “No child is that perfect.”

Until now, that is. Taylor Joy Ravenscraft arrived on July 14, and never a more perfect child has there been. Perfectly formed, perfectly happy, perfectly self-scheduled to wake up every two hours.

Needless to say, her timing is impeccable. What better antidote to grief than a brand new life! Especially one whose parents are responsible for those nighttime awakenings.

Like so many experiences with grown children, watching my son (“the wild child,” we called him) so carefully tending his daughter feels amazing. It’s a reward I hadn’t imagined during the harried days of working and raising my own.

As a friend pointed out, “Grandchildren are your reward for not killing your kids.” If you’re on the verge, hang in there. It’s a heck of a reward.

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From Laughter to Tears

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

One of my most moving Chautauqua experiences was attending the Friday night Shabbat service near the Miller Bell Tower by the lake. Although the Chautauqua experience was a Methodist invention for training Sunday School teachers, the Institution is intentional about including all religions, and last week marked the dedication of a Jewish Life Center on the grounds.

Since I’m not Jewish myself and don’t read Hebrew, parts of the service were a challenge, but the closing lines of the Kaddish prayer, translated into English, were so beautiful that I want to share them here. I suspect their beauty and wisdom will bring a tear to anyone who is grieving. I know they did to me.

Kaddish Yatom

When I die, if you need to weep cry for someone walking the street beside you.

And when you need me, put your arms around others and give them what you need to give me.

You can love me most by sharing your joy and multiplying your good deeds.

You can love me most by letting me live not in your mind but in your eyes.

And when you say Kaddish for me, remember what our Torah teaches.

Love doesn’t die. People do. So when all that’s left of me is love, give me away.

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Stretch Your Comfort Zone

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

My humor and creativity workshop is always full of suprises.  So when i challenged participants of the Belly Laugh wokshop at Chautauqua to roam the ground wearing funny red clown noses, I was prepared for anything.  Almost.  Enter Mike Todd of Marion, Ohio, who took the assignment to the next level by passing out programs to some 1,200 concert-goers in the historic Amphitheater wearing, yes, the clown nose.  (Also, a sign that said Pat Snyder made me do this). 

Did the exercise, intended to stretch our comfort zones, stretch his?

“Not at all,” he said.  “I felt entirely comforable.”  I believe him.

But that wasn’t the case for most of us in the workshop, who resisted even more subtle comfort-stretchers like reversing daily routines and drawing figures upside down.

How abou you?  Have you done anyhing lately to get out of your comfort zone and into the place where creativity begins?

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Wanting To Share Chautauqua

Sunday, July 5th, 2009


If there’s a place closer to heaven, I don’t know where it is. Chautauqua, with its unpressured pace, is the perfect spot to breathe deeply and take in a lecture, a concert, or a double dip chocolate ice cream in a sugar cone. Writing tonight from the Methodist House near the Amphitheater, I can hear the haunting tones of African hymns, as if I were in the audience. So many birds are chirping that my son, calling my cell, thought I was at a zoo.

Bob and I came here together last year, for an off-season jazz festival in the fall. He had no interest in the more hectic pace of the regular season. “You go for it, though,” he said, settling as he often did for vicarious enjoyment. In retrospect, his bent toward opting out was a blessing. No regrets this year about what he’s missing, and only a time or two have I caught myself picking up the phone to say, “You wouldn’t believe….”

Once was last night when the Chautauqua Symphony distributed three paper bags to each of us, with instructions to blow them up and pop them at the end of the 1812 Overture. And pop them, we did. I grabbed my phone, ready to share the ridiculously beautiful noise with Speed Dial 2. He would have loved the excitement.

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