Attention is the doorway to gratitude

I took this from Brain Pickings:

the time will come quote Derek Walcott artist Moonchild Ljilja

“Botanist and nature writer Robin Wall Kimmerer, who has written beautifully about the art of attentiveness to life at all scales, examines the revelations of the garden in Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (public library) — an unusual and richly rewarding book blending botany, Native American mythology, natural history, and philosophy.

Kimmerer also had a terrific On Being conversation with Krista Tippett — during which she said:

The] kind of deep attention that we pay as children is something that I cherish, that I think we all can cherish and reclaim — because attention is the doorway to gratitude, the doorway to wonder, the doorway to reciprocity. And it worries me greatly that today’s children can recognize 100 corporate logos and fewer than 10 plants. That means they’re not paying attention.”






<a href="">Gratitude</a>


Enlighten the Darkness of my heart

St Francis and corgi

I love this whimsical painting of Saint Francis of Assisi!

Here is one of his prayers:

Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart,
and give me right faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
wisdom and understanding,
Lord, that I may carry out
your holy and true command.




<a href=””>Enlighten</a&gt;

Exhilaration, Energy, Release


Here’s a poem I wrote about twenty years ago:

In Tandem


The fact is: when you ride in front, you steer.

The person in the back controls the speed.

The pedals go as quickly as they need

to keep one’s partner accurate with fear.

A panic on the handlebars will clear

confusion as to who will take the lead.

The person who relinquishes is freed

to stabilize the pair, and mere

agreement brings a rush of calm and peace

as widely round the corners they can glide,

adjusting speed and vision with each turn.

Exhilaration, energy, release

accompany their willingness to ride;

reward them with the pace for which they yearn







<a href=””>Release</a&gt;

The Cavalry of Woe

snow cemetery 013


Here is a poem by Emily Dickinson:


To fight aloud, is very brave –

But gallanter, I know

Who charge within the bosom

The Calvalry of Wo –

Who win, and nations do not see –

Who fall – and none observe –

Whose dying eyes, no Country

Regards with patriot love –

We trust, in plumed procession

For such, the Angels go –

Rank after Rank, with even feet –

And Uniforms of snow.





<a href=””>Brave</a&gt;

Falls: a risky business when you’re over 65


Probably risky before that, but so much more in later years.

This is the first time I haven’t posted a poem.  I don’t have one with the word “risky” in it, and I don’t have one about falls.  But I should write one.

I have fallen five or six times in the last three years: missing the last step going downstairs,  tripping on a broken pavement, slipping on wet stairs…  one broken foot, some stitches above one eye… nothing to really keep me down.

However, I was sobered when I read a news report from last November that my beloved Leonard Cohen’s death was not caused by a fall, but was certainly hastened by one.

So any of you fellow boomers who are reading this, read it with attention!

This is an excerpt from an article by Jeremy Faust in Salon from November 2016. I found it very helpful!


“… as our population continues to live longer and longer, falls are becoming the great plague of the modern era. They are the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly, and the incidence has increased steadily over the past decade. And, usually, they are not an easy way to go—many cause prolonged discomfort.


“Still, we don’t think of falls as being that serious. Consider the following two scenarios. In the first, you learn that your mother has just been diagnosed with cancer. Regardless of its stage, this news is likely to be met with tremendous distress by both patients and their families. People spring into action. Treatment plans are made. Financial houses are put in order. Wills are written. Advanced-care directives are considered. Old grudges are forgiven. In the second scenario, you are told that your mother has been admitted to the hospital after a fall. Obviously, you are worried. But, you may think, at least she’s not dying or anything.


“All too often, this is the wrong reaction. The one-year mortality for patients who are admitted to the hospital after a fall is a staggering 33 percent. A fall bad enough to warrant hospital admission can carry as poor a prognosis as some stage IV cancers that have metastasized to the lungs and brain. Of course, the people who are hospitalized after a fall are much more likely to have a higher mortality rate anyway. (They’re going to be older, and have more comorbid medical conditions, but falls still pose a bigger risk than other conditions.) By comparison, the one-year mortality for older patients admitted to the hospital for pneumonia hovers around 21 percent



“Sure, heart and lung disease and cancer are statistically more likely to kill you. If you live long enough, these most certainly will catch up with you, though often after a long, slow, and steady decline. In fact, by the time we get to be the age at which falls are risky, the other things will likely already have done much of the damage they’re going to do. Most middle-age and older people likely already have heart disease that poses little immediate threat to them. In one study, 73 percent of subjects who died from noncardiac causes (and who had no prior symptoms of cardiac disease) were found to have significant coronary artery disease on autopsy. Their clogged arteries didn’t contribute to their deaths. Most of us effortlessly live with some degree of age-related heart disease and for a great many of us, it poses no unusual risk.



“But when it comes to ruining a life overnight, there’s nothing like a bad fall. Nothing takes a perfectly healthy functioning older person and renders them immediately, and often irrevocably, miserable and incapacitated like a serious fall. (Well, maybe car accidents—but statistically, more older people are going to suffer from falls than car accidents. In fact, it’s not even close.) Falls not only pose a higher risk of death, they’re also immediately and catastrophically debilitating. If I were 80, I’d pick certain cancers or heart disease over a significant fall in a heartbeat.


“Why are falls so dangerous? There are short- and long-term risks. In the short term, falls that involve trauma to the head can cause life-threatening intracranial bleeding. Broken bones have their own risk, including lung embolisms in which tiny fragments of broken bone make their way into our circulation and reach the lung, causing impressive and often life-threatening damage. But falls that cause broken hips and legs can cause death and disability even well after the acute phase. Blood clots to the lung are more likely in the months after surgery or prolonged periods of immobilization. People who become more sedentary are more likely to develop a host of other problems, including heart and lung disease.



“What can predict a person’s risk of suffering a fall? In medical school, we learned the “get up and go” test. The idea was simple: A seated patient is asked to stand up, remain still briefly, walk a few feet, turn around, and return to the initial seated position. If any part of a patient’s performance was deemed mildly abnormal, the patient is assumed to be a “fall risk.” Unfortunately, while it remains the mainstay for fall-risk assessment, it turns out that the “get up and go test” actually performs relatively poorly in predicting falls. This means your own doctor may not be adequately evaluating your (or your relative’s) risk. So, you need to.

banana peel


“A fall bad enough to warrant hospital admission can carry as poor a prognosis as some stage IV cancers.



“What should you look for? Depression. This alone is associated with a 2.5 times to sevenfold risk of a fall with a 2.5 times to sevenfold risk of a future fall. That’s more than using a cane, prior strokes, diabetes, or irregular heartbeat. And the most powerful prognostic information on fall comes from a careful assessment of the foot. Foot health, much like dental hygiene, provides tremendous insight into a person’s functional status and access to healthcare. The presence of nonhealing wounds imparts significant fall risk. But the biggest predictor of those who are least likely to fall is simply the ability to cut one’s own toenails. Even previous falls or near falls are less predictive.


“What can you do to prevent falls? First, address any risks you may have. You may not need a cardiologist or an oncologist yet, but if you’re depressed, you need a psychologist or a psychiatrist. And if your feet are not in pristine health, find a podiatrist.


“You can also limit your risks by modifying your own environment and behavior. This hasn’t been empirically tested, but in my opinion, the most important thing an elderly person can do to protect themselves from the worst outcomes from a fall is to carpet their home. We often think about babyproofing the home. But geriatric-proofing them is not a bad idea either.



Additionally, as we age, it is important that we realize our limitations. The older we get, the more we get up at night to use the restroom. This may sound silly, but turn on the lights. Your spouse may grumble, but it’s worth it so you don’t trip and fall. This happens all the time. Get up slowly, especially in the morning when you haven’t had anything to eat or drink in many hours. (Dehydration-related falls and even loss of consciousness are common in emergency departments.)

“Committed to staying in shape by taking the stairs? Fine, but try to only go up the stairs. Taking the stairs downward provides little exercise, and the momentum of a fall is far worse.


“It’s only relatively recently that we have been living long enough for falls to pose such a risk. We ignore the risk they pose at our own peril. Cohen may have been ready to die. But for the rest of us who expect to have not just longevity but functional longevity, it’s one foot in front of the other. “


<a href=””>Risky</a&gt;


Garlic and sapphires in the mud

roses-in-fog3 (1)




Here is one stanza from T.S. Eliot’s poem  “Four Quartets”  :


Garlic and sapphires in the mud

Clot the bedded axle-tree.

The trilling wire in the blood

Sings below inveterate scars

Appeasing long forgotten wars.

The dance along the artery

The circulation of the lymph

Are figured in the drift of stars

Ascend to summer in the tree

We move above the moving tree

In light upon the figured leaf

And hear upon the sodden floor

Below, the boarhound and the boar

Pursue their pattern as before

But reconciled among the stars.



<a href=””>Ascend</a&gt;

Long Before the Present Conflagration



Long before the present fires that are decimating the vineyards and homes in Sonoma County, California, another fire destroyed the newly completed Wolf House, intended home of American writer Jack Lond and his wife.   I visited the ruins in 1996 and wrote this poem:


Jack London’s House Warming


Wolf House lurks alone

Like a Mayan temple

In the forest of the Valley of the Moon,

Waiting for Jack London

To host his first party there.

At midnight,

The owl ride the rafters

For shadowy mice

Who run the rough boulders.

Deer pick their way to the tender grass

That grows in the empty swimming pool.

Wolves reclaim the ballroom.


Remains from the inferno,

Brown boulders, volcanic rock,

Rough hewn and heavy,

Miss the tree torsos

That walled them

That joined them.

All the tiles gone, all the redwoods gone,

Succumbed to the lust of the

Wedding night of the house,

Fire reaching its arms out,

Flames embracing,

Smoke whispering its name

In the calm August midnight,

flames that waited all their lives

For such a feast.


swimming pool wolf house

 Jack London's Wolf House

from “The Wolf House “– Jack London State Park, Glen Ellen , California:

“The Wolf House was to become the London’s home, Jack’s workshop, Charmian’s tower, and an oversized cabinet of curiosities filled with the London’s unique collection from their world travels.

“Albert Farr of San Francisco designed the house and construction began in 1910. The dream home was nearly completed in August 1913 when it burnt to the ground. In 1995, a team of forensic experts concluded that the cause of the fire was likely due to a pile of oil-soaked rags, left by workers, spontaneously combusting.”



<a href=””>Succumb</a&gt;