Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I love these cheerful "Topiaries", a creation of my gifted daughter-in-law!

They were installed last weekend in Palm Desert (with some help from my son, her husband). Her work dots the landscape all over the southwest.

You can see more of it, installations, murals and ceramics, right here

Maybe you like them too? or not much at all? Either way, I'd like to read your comments . . .

E-mail from the artist added Nov.1. (Ellie,13, is her younger daughter, Duncan, her husband):
The comments are so nice!! Thank you so much for forwarding, I work in such a vacuum (Ellie do you like this? Duncan what do you think?) it is very gratifying to hear comments from people I am not related to! Xo Christie

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Fall Garden

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” (-William Cullen Bryant)
(shamelessly lifted from A Brush With Color to be shared with those who lived with me on Bryant Street)

The garden lives and changes caring nothing for financial crises, elections or guns, and reminds me that after these chilling and uncertain times spring and summer will return.

click on lower right corner for a larger image

Here in the Northwest, fall is at its best, crisp morning air turning into warm sunny midday. An explosion of yellow, orange and red foliage lines up my street, the last roses strain toward the sun and the hydrangeas are ready to be harvested and dried for winter pleasure. Soon I'll plant the spring bulbs: yellow crocuses between the flagstones, a border of red species tulips and blue forget-me-nots; and for the house hyacinths and amaryllis. I am already smiling in anticipation!

Thank you to all who e-mailed or commented on the previous entry

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Happened in School Today

The phone rings. It is my daughter Amy calling from New Hampshire. "Mom?" Her voice is strangled. I brace myself but nothing has prepared me for what follows. "Stephie's school is under lock down. There's a gunman in the school. Steph called me on her phone ". Amy is on the verge of crying now. My heart beats so hard I have to sit down. Just last night she sent me Steph's senior picture. Shiny-eyed Stephie, eighteen years old, a high school senior poised on the edge of her adult life. Amy continues, "I could hear the teacher yelling, 'Be quiet. Listen to me. Stay down! Stay down!'" Old newsreels flash through my mind which rejects them immediately.

Central High is a big school, 4000 or so students in a vast group of older buildings. Twice last year the school was locked down with students inside. Once because a wife beater who had just killed a policeman was suspected of hiding there, and a second time when a student brought a weapon into the school. Now, I want to know where my granddaughter is in relation to the gunman, but there is no way of finding out. Amy herself lives close by but she is miles away at work and the whole high school neighborhood is cordoned off. She worries about the safety of 15 year-old Josh alone at home, not feeling well.

Failing to rob a restaurant across the street, three men are cornered by the police. One is arrested, another shoots himself, and the third one runs across the street into the high school. My mind weighs the information. Is he more dangerous than a desperate alienated teenager? Less? Will he surrender or take as many people as he can with him? I launch into a string of reassurances that I try to believe, "She'll be OK. She'll do as she is told . . ." Amy interrupts, "Steph is calling!" I sit on the edge of the bed. I have been there before, these terrible moments when you are alone, fearing the worst and can do nothing, nothing at all. Soon, Amy calls back: Stephie's class is out of harm's way. Eventually, all the kids are removed safely. It'll play itself out between the police and the gunman now.

Fear ebbs away and in its place rises a great rage against that bastard who terrified us, against the NRA and its specious arguments. Obama is in New Hampshire today campaigning away. Neither he nor McCain has touched on the issue of gun control. What if it were their daughter or granddaughter in that school? Stephie and her classmates are safe this time. What about next time?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Green Card Adieu

Green cards haven't been green for a long time. My first one was though.
1962. My new husband, a new doctor in physics, has convinced me that a post-doc year in Chicago will be the crowning glory of his education. "It's just for a year", he says. Pregnant with my first child and having recently made the transition from Belgian girlhood to young pregnant wifehood in England, I have no interest in crossing that ocean. But, believe me, you are at a real disadvantage pleading your case haltingly in a second language, offering the futile argument of preferring home and friends against climbing the ladder of scientific success. My own family reminds me that a wife's duty is to support her husband, and that a year soon passes. Ha!

Husband does all the paper work; I just sign where necessary, completely unaware that I am applying for permanent residency. I have never heard of the "brain drain". I am fed information on a needed basis only and trust that nothing important is withheld. While I believe we are on the same page, we are not even in the same scenario.

Soon before departure, we are summoned to the American embassy for a group ceremony to take an oath facing the flag. A small girl stands by me. She points at the eagle glaring over the huge American flag as her high-pitched voice pierces the respectful silence, "Look at that big parrot, Mum!" A wave of laughter is soon suppressed by the glaring bureaucrat in charge. We mumble our promise not to misbehave or cause harm to the United States of America, and I am handed that all-important
3 1/4"x2 1/2" piece of plastic which will redefine my life path.

November 13th, 1962. I rise early from my berth on the lowest level of the Queen Mary to stand on deck in the frigid morning as we sail past the Statue of Liberty. New York looks grey and uninviting but I try to feel the same excitement as my husband's. In time, I come to understand why we traveled on one-way passages, what the green card really means, that my child will be American whether I want it or not, and that selected pieces of the truth can and do amount to a lie.

September 30th, 2008. This time, I know what I am doing. I am tired of being challenged by immigration officers, of being taxed without representation, of this terrible government, of seeing my grandchildren's future imperiled. Two days short of my 70th birthday, I surrender my (now white) green card with its fancy hologram and electronic chip. For a moment I feel insecure, defenseless.

Then, along with a diverse array of like-minded people, hand on heart, I repeat the pledge, collect my certificate of naturalization, and drive straight to the Obama Headquarters to register to vote. It's 10 a.m., my legal status has changed but I feel just the same as ever. At home and not.

I'd love to show you but . . .

Thursday, October 2, 2008


This is difficult to read but, **please**, do so. Then pass this story on, because at some level through our government's lack of action we were complicit, and because there but for a twist of fate go we all.