Saturday, October 31, 2009

Depression and Despair (not the Halloween sort)

Lovely title for a blog post, no? But I was struck by an article written about the philosopher Kierkegaard, someone I studied long ago in college but to whom I've given little thought over the last couple of decades. This article, though, makes me want to pull out my Fear and Trembling and get all carried away, again.

Here's a tidbit:

There is abundant chatter today about “being spiritual” but scarcely anyone believes that a person can be of troubled mind and healthy spirit. Nor can we fathom the idea that the happy wanderer, who is all smiles and has accomplished everything on his or her self-fulfillment list, is, in fact, a case of despair. But while Kierkegaard would have agreed that happiness and melancholy are mutually exclusive, he warns, “Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair.”

Click HERE to read.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Obligatory Photos

Every year, The Husband tries to come home from work early one night and help to carve pumpkins. Since he's a chef, and a pretty fancy, trained one, his carving skills are advanced. And he's Swiss, too, which makes him a perfectionist, often to an aggravating degree. He isn't schooled in politically correct parenting, either, so he just can't stand to see a job not done just so. The right way. One day I'll post about what happens at Christmas when he makes a gingerbread house "with the kids." Suffice it to say that crafts led by The Husband don't involve me. I steer clear. I take photos. So here they are:

Henry jumps right on in, impervious to The Husband's admonitions:

Oliver, on the other hand, like a chip off the old block, is upset that his pumpkin face has already been drawn and not by himself.

He will stay like this for a really long time, while great pumpkin-carving continues all around him:

Here he is about a half an hour later:

and here

And then, he reluctantly picks up the drill

and grudgingly starts drilling. A boy and drill is good for the soul.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Laying Eggs

As a writer I feel, sometimes, as if I were a chicken laying an egg. I run around frantically, pecking and pecking and eating bits here and there; a bold and strange muse visits me when I hardly know what to do and then with a bit of exertion of which I'm only partially aware,

OUT comes an egg.

Here are two new eggs, recently released:

The Mom Egg is a beautiful literary journal, filled with poetry, art, prose, fiction and photography. I am honored to be in the new Fall 2009 edition. Click HERE to download the journal and read my essay as well as my good friend Denise's.

The other egg is

My Baby Rides the Short Bus is an anthology of writing by parents of children with disabilities. I believe I'm probably the least of a very rocking, edgy group of terrific writers included in it. I haven't received my copy, yet, but I think several of the writers, including the editors, have done readings in Texas and New York City.

I'd love to know what you think of my eggs, and since my skin is certainly NOT eggshell thin, comments, criticism, anything is welcome! (Do chickens have ears?)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Corner View- WATER

One of the most beautiful blogs I know of is WHATEVER, and yesterday, Meg posted about an amazing company called Water4Christmas and their new etsy shop that will be donating ALL of their proceeds to build wells with clean water in Liberia. Here are some words from their site:

There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." (Denis Waitley)

At Water for Christmas, we've allowed the existing conditions to break our hearts and spur us to action.

* We want to join others in solving the world's water crisis, where 1.1 billion people on the planet don't have access to safe, clean drinking water.
* We don't want to accept the conditions where unclean water and the lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
* It doesn't make sense that 4500 children should die every day from the lack of access to clean water.

Water for Christmas is partnering with charity: water ( to build wells in Africa. All proceeds from items sold in this shop will go directly to building fresh water wells in Liberia, West Africa. We believe that a small group of people can work together to change the world. Visit us at

Since Wednesday's Corner View,  courtesy of Trinsch is WATER, what better way to celebrate and acknowledge what most of us take for granted than visiting this site and perhaps making a purchase? They have some beautiful things, including the gorgeous water drop Christmas ornament in the photo above (that I have promptly bought in two colors!).

Thanks to Meg for spreading the word!

**For more corner views, go here:  jane, ladybug-zen, ian, bonnie, esti, sophie, cele, modsquad, caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, skymring, elizabeth, allison, lise, cate, crescent moon, erin, otli, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, april, b, kyndale samantha, karen, kristina, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, aimee, sunnymama, jenell, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, jodi, gillian, travelingmama, athena, pienduzz, latisha, clairette, kelleyn, iris, demara, mus, ninja, guusje, di, sammi, theresa, cherry b, victoria, kathryn , lisa, liza, juliette, braja, mulot, anne, lucy, leonor, elizabeth, helene, dominique, shokoofeh, cole, jenna, podane, grey-lemon, line, nihal, urbaNiche, inner toddler, puna, lucylaine, adrienne, emily, lynn, skywriting, eliane

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stream of the Unconscious

In lieu of a real blog post where I discuss one thing or another, I think I'll give you a glimpse of the way the mind, in this case my, mind works. I went to bed last night early for me because I had a splitting headache, so I woke up at 5 am and just lay in the dark, thinking. I have never had insomnia and by some miracle any trouble at all sleeping, so lying in the dark in the early hours of the morning could go either way -- to being happy that I'm the only one awake and the house is deliciously quiet and peaceful -- to being batshit crazy, as Ms. Moon would say, that I'm the only one awake in the house and therefore in the unique position of holding all the house's and all the inhabitants' thoughts. And so that's what I did -- went a little batshit crazy and here's where I'll just let my mind meander from thought to thought and I might not even use punctuation because I don't think a mind that is batshit crazy punctuates itself at all the ease with which it goes from damn I think I'm getting a cold to but maybe not maybe I'm just tired because of all the crap that's been happening the last few days and I'm so glad that The Husband is sleeping in Sophie's room right now because of my cold and I don't want her to get it and I hope that it's not swine flu because that would be such a drag I really can't be sick because who would take care of things and I remember the last time I got sick and felt so depressed during it that I came up with the theory that there has to be a central nervous system component to the flu because whenever I have it I just don't give a damn about anything, even my kids and I wish I hadn't made that comment on Facebook when someone said that people who don't vaccinate their kids with swine flu should be homeschooled because entering that conflict ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS gives me stomach pain and I have a stalwart stomach and I hate the vaccination debate even though I feel pretty certain that the jury is still out on the safety of vaccines and I know, I know that terrible diseases have been eradicated and we have the luxury here in the U.S. of A. to even debate the efficacy of vaccines because our children are literally not dying in the streets but then I have a daughter who was perhaps damaged by a vaccine and she matters, too, certainly I can't defend the idea of her being collateral damage in the interest of public health and then there's the fact that my boys aren't vaccinated which makes me incredibly irresponsible to some, those who say that are placing their own kids in harm's way and then I think is dying better than having a lifetime of seizures and wearing diapers and not being able to talk or run or crouch so that your muscles get stiff and damn, this is a cold because my throat is tickling and I'll have to go and get some more yin chao from Dr. Jin who I haven't seen in too long it's probably the reason why I'm a little depressed but if I remember to breathe deep in and deep out, breathing in I calm myself, breathing out I smile and not to think of the vaccination debate and why hasn't the neurologist's office called back about the endocrinologist referral it's been about a month and I hate this life, calling all these doctors and chasing referrals and never feeling taken care of and I'm glad that I have to take Sophie to the osteopath this afternoon because she has seemed so uncomfortable in her body for a few weeks and maybe that will help her but then again maybe nothing I am doing is going to help her and then there's Oliver and his reading difficulties and Henry and what happened at school yesterday and god, I need to bring Valentine to the vet this morning for her shots and I just can't possibly cancel the appointment for the third time in a row because I faked being sick last week and now I actually am and I still have to send the SIGG water bottles back to SIGG because of the leaching plastic but I don't want to spend the money on the shipping but it's cluttering up the dining room table and I have so many magazines that I haven't read and catalogs and nothing to wear and I need to exercise and I wonder how my friend who is going to do the modified  Atkins diet for her child with seizures is going to have the energy and I should probably try it too with Sophie even though the ketogenic diet still remains one of the darkest moments that was months in the history of Sophie and me it was barbaric, really and I still get chills thinking about it and I need to breathe again, breathing in I calm myself and breathing out I smile and Henry told a dirty joke to his friends yesterday and got in trouble and had to go to the principal's office for the first time in his life and maybe that's why I feel queasy because I hated getting in trouble when I was a kid and that's the main reason why I was good not because I really am good but because I didn't want to get caught and sort of knew that I would be caught so I  never did any drugs not because I thought they were bad or immoral but because I just knew that I'd be the one who got caught or died after the first try and maybe I should just get up and at least put away all those papers on the desk in here and hang up the clothes from yesterday because I'm never going to go back to sleep.

So that's what I did. I got up, turned on the light,organized my desk, read some emails and blogs and hung up the clothes. And then I went back to bed for thirty or so minutes until the flashing light of the alarm clock woke me up. It was day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Inside the Hedges

photo courtesy of

I remember the hedges that sat in the middle of the pebbled driveway of our house on Long Island when I was very young. I don't know whether they were privet or boxwood or laurel, but I remember their smell, spicy and green and full of the ocean and unmowed grass. Low down, the otherwise stiff branches softened and if you pushed and pulled, you could make a hole and through that I would climb or crawl and then I'd be inside, crouched on the cool dirt. The branches were so thick that the sun could only make lacy light in there and sound was muffled. I don't remember how long I sat inside the hedges, but it might have been forever or at least as long as the summers we spent there. There was nothing to do in there but sit and look upward, high up through the tops at the blue sky and birds flying overhead and then down, toward the moist earth and trail my fingers in the dirt, displacing pebbles and maybe moss, something ripe. Never eat a mushroom, I'd think, staring at its pale white surface and the brown, ominous edges. The children who lived next door were calling, their shouts muffled and then growing louder as they drew nearer. Looking for me. At the end of the hedge, hands grasped and pulled, making a hole to enter, the sound of leaves rubbing together and wood giving way. There you are! We found you! And then no silence but bare feet and others crouching with me, hiding from the others.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Can I Have Dessert is over at LA Moms Blog

I am convinced that my two sons are addicted to sugar. At the very least, they live with the assumption that after every meal a sweet treat or two or three is available. And lest you think I'm a clueless mother, I'm perfectly aware that this is my fault. Now, I should preface this by saying that I used to be a pastry chef, and my husband is a chef and my children have always been exposed to really good food. And because our oldest daughter has a severe disability and requires a pretty stringently healthy, whole foods diet, we're very conscious of proper nutrition. After almost a decade and a half of mothering, I'm aware of what you're supposed to do and not supposed to do regarding food and rewards and eating and all that stuff. And I realize that dessert as a reward to finishing your dinner is not exactly de rigueur in these hyper-conscious parenting times, but I do it all the time.
Can I have dessert? my younger son, who is eight years old, asked me the other night. Oliver has become, of late, an extremely picky eater whose likes and dislikes are hard to keep up with. I tend to just ignore them, let him go hungry if he doesn't like what I've prepared. Continue reading this post at Los Angeles Moms Blog...

Someone in the White House is Working on Epilepsy!

Click HERE and watch 60 Minutes tomorrow night!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Stubborn Gladness

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only 
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront 
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

from Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sophie and the Beach

Much has been written about Sophie and the beach, here and here and here.

Yesterday we went to the beach. It was a beautiful, breezy day and the sky was intensely blue. I intended to exercise, so I brought along Sophie's wheelchair and pushed her about a mile toward the Santa Monica pier. We passed women pushing baby carriages, young guys on skateboards, muscle men working out in the sand and a homeless guy who muttered curse words and shuffled along next to me for a little bit. I heard a couple arguing, you've got to try to have a sense of humor about these things, an older woman said to an older man, and one young guy whizzed by me sideways on skates with only one wheel. His red hair stood up on end and he looked a little like an inverted hamster.

I turned around at the pier and pushed her back toward where we had started. We sat in the sun at Perry's Cafe. I ate a grilled mahi-mahi sandwich and fed Sophie grilled cheese and french fries.

Then I wheeled the chair down the short wooden pier and left it there, at the end. I love that Sophie can walk freely here on the sand. There's a wide expanse and a soft surface, so I just let her go.

We sat, then,  in the sand and watched the surfers and sunbathers for a bit before we headed home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And Touchstones

I'm also over at Hopeful Parents today.

Corner View - Dream

Wishes and dreams are much the same thing.

The Dream Keeper

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

Langston Hughes

A portrait of Sophie, made by her brother Henry, when he was five years old. "I dream that she is happy and can talk," he said.

**Visit other corner views around the world by going to Spain Daily.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Taking Care of Business

Erika, over at The Flight of Our Hummingbird has given me two awards. The great thing about blogging, especially when you have an incredible community of bloggers like I do, is that you can accept accolades from the privacy of your home and then pass them on. Thank you, Erika, for the awards and for your beautiful, inspiring writing. I would like to pass this award on to The House of Nana, a blog that I am absolutely addicted to. And now I'll answer these terribly informative questions -- I'm actually not only grateful for the awards but grateful to just do something fun!
1. Where is your cell phone?  next to me
2. Your hair?  graying
3. Your mother?  Syrian/Scotch-English
4. Your father?  Italian
5. Your favorite food?  pizza
6. Your dream last night?  nothing 
7. Your favorite drink?  wheat beer, right now
8. Your dream/goal?  to found a school/residence for people like Sophie 
9. What room are you in?  bedroom
10. Your hobby?  reading
11. Your fear?  that religious zealots of any stripe "win"
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?  home, writing, and listening to my children
13. Where were you last night? here
14. Something that you aren't?  little
15. Muffins?  cappuccino
16. Wish list item? laptop  
17. Where did you grow up?  New Jersey and Atlanta, GA 
18. Last thing you did?  kissed by boys good-bye as they ran out the door 
19. What are you wearing? Target pjs and a robe 
20. Your TV?  ancient 
21. Your pets?  Valentine, the poodle, Peanut, the hamster, and I forget his name the betta fish 
22. Friends?  more precious than anything other than my kids 
23. Your life?  never a dull moment
24. Your mood? good 
25. Missing someone?  not really
26. Vehicle?  take me away  
27. Something you’re not wearing? shorts
28. Your favorite store? bookstore 
29. Your favorite color?  blue 
30. When was the last time you laughed?  this morning
31. Last time you cried? two days ago
32. Your best friend?  I have a couple
33. One place that I go to over and over? my computer
34. One person who emails me regularly? my father 
35. Favorite place to eat?  in the kitchen

The Girl Effect

Just when the navel-gazing (on my part) gets a tad too intense, there's


(and I'm spreading it from Adrienne's blog which is so worth a stop, anyway!)

Monday, October 19, 2009


When I posted about Compassion Fatigue, I received lots of comments. One of them was, ironically, from a compassion fatigue specialist who found my blog through a google reader that alerts her to anything pertaining to the subject! How cool is that?

Here's her comment back with some wonderful resources for compassion fatigue.

Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed. CCC. Compassion Fatigue Specialist has left a new comment on your post "Compassion Fatigue":

What a wonderful post! I would like to let your readers know of some free resources and articles on compassion fatigue. Some of the resources were originally designed for professional caregivers but I believe you will find some helpful information among it even if you are a caregiver.

There is the compassion fatigue awareness project, by Patricia Smith:

My own website: with a whole bunch of articles on strategies and self care resources if you click on "Resources and links" Finally my colleague Jan Spilman who is a caregiver herself, write a weekly blog at

All the best, Françoise 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Epilepsy Freedom Walk 2009

It's not too late to donate to this most worthy cause! Click HERE and donate to Team Sophalofa!


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