Looking back and thinking forward

Month: August, 2010

Attraversiamo …


… Inscribed on a Balinese river stone, I simply had to buy it!

I must admit I felt like a tourist, a groupie, hm … a child of the universe … as we crossed over from Pennsylvania into New Jersey's Frenchtown, in search for Two Buttons, the store of Jose and Liz. As in Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Pray, Love, and Felipe, her Brazilian lover (now husband, Jose Nunes).


After an easy drive from our Mount Airy home in Philadelphia, along the banks of the Delaware River, on a glorious ending-of-summer-day, at the edge of Frenchtown, New Jersey, we discovered the sprawling warehouse, Two Buttons:


We wandered in and found ourselves transported to a "world of wonders." As described on their web-page, the store is full of "beautiful objects from hidden corners of the world." And as we walked through, we found the rooms opening and extending further and further, each filled with more and more beautiful objects.

We bought a number of different items:


I started with a much needed boundary statue: "Boundaries and Boundary-markers are very important in Indonesian life and culture. Often used to literally mark land boundaries, these statues are also used to protect ones emotional boundaries as well. Carved out of lava rock from the island of Sulawasi, these wonderful individually unique statues help to support and protect your boundaries. Haven't we all had times when our boundaries needed a little support?"

And proceeded to some bracelets and a japa mala:


I even found a beautifully carved wooden hand to hold my rings when I sleep or garden!


But then, life partner became serious. He found …


… a large wooden elephant for our library …


… an iguana carved from teak to hide between some plants on our sun porch …


… and a large picture of the Buddha's face for one section of the living room.

We were so excited, and paid for our purchases while Winston kindly helped to load them into the car  – but as we were exiting, we noticed a tall, serene Buddha standing by the front door. Life partner said, "Wouldn't that look good by our front door?" I gasped with joy and almost clapped my hands together like a small child. "Yes of course," I said breathlessly. So back we went and bought that too!



That meant moving things around in the car to help the statue fit in comfortably, and we set off into Frenchtown to find a place for lunch. The day was bright and clear, sun shining brilliantly and people were out and about – a feeling of end of summer panic in the air. Time for the last few moments of fun before school starts again, and with that, fall's routine hum-drum of work, work, work settles in again. Ah, the cycle of life!

Just as we were walking through the town searching for the right eating spot, I gasped out loud,"Oh dear, I forgot to take a photograph of the huge, white Buddha at the entrance to the store!" Life partner comforted me at once, "After lunch we'll go back on our way and I'll take a picture of you standing by the Buddha." "No need for tourist pictures," I replied with a laugh, "It was bad enough that I bought a river stone with Attraversiamo inscribed on it! How embarrassing is that! Don't tell anyone I did that, for goodness sake. Have I become an Eat, Pray, Love groupie?"

And so, after lunch we wandered back to Two Buttons. I was excited to see it again. I ran out to take a picture of the Buddha at the entrance to the store:


As I was returning to the car, Life partner noticed two tall urns standing in the sun. Whitish-yellow, delicately carved, standing on two pedestals. We drew in closely to look at them. I was thinking of the urn for our dining room. Although not pale green or porcelain, this looked much like the shape of the vase I had dreamed about recently. We  were commenting to each other in amazement at how inexpensive the urns were, when a man about our age came out to tell us they were from Vietnam, made of marble, and were inexpensive probably because they might have been broken and repaired at some stage. After agreeing that we could buy just one, he worked laboriously to tip up the urn and pour out all the rain water that had gathered inside over the past days or weeks. It looked extremely heavy, and I worried about him straining his back.

As we talked together I started to realise that this man was, in fact, Jose Nunes, Elizabeth Gilbert's husband. I smiled and laughed, exclaiming, "Ah, so you are Javier Bardem!" Jose smiled in return and said something about Javier being a "very jazzed-up version" of him! As we entered the store through the back in order to purchase the marble urn, Jose said that Liz was inside if we wanted to meet her. I was thrilled. "I wonder if she wouldn't mind signing a copy of my book?" I asked a little sheepishly, since I had put my copy in the car before we left home … you know, just in case. "Of course!" Jose replied kindly. Come on in!

Before we knew it, we were right back inside, amidst the beauty and wonder of Buddhas and trinkets, scarves, and beads, statues and carvings – on and on and on. Did I just hear Jose call out to Liz, "Darling … " as he summoned her to meet us? And there she was, extending her hand, smiling and greeting us emanating a relaxed and contented energy. She was quite happy to sign my book …


… and as she did, Jose poured us little paper cups of wine. I had a chance to relate to Liz that I had finished reading the book only two days prior to this trip, since I saw the movie first, and then read the book. I thanked her because the section written about India and the ashram seemed to have brought me back to yoga again in a deeper more fulfilling way. Winston and Jose loaded the precious, marble urn into our car, after once again we adjusted all our items to make room for the third and last purchase.

And off we went – back home. Only one more stop for ice-cream on the way, but I really could not wait to put everything in their places … but, especially, the urn.


… and so …


… as everything was put into place …


… life partner and I toasted each other with a glass of wine, and allowed all the beauty and joy of Two Buttons to bless our new home. Somehow, I feel, we will be back there again … and again …

The porcelain vase

I had a dream.

I found the perfect porcelain floor vase for the corner of the dining room next to the piano. It was pale green with light blue, turqoise markings, elegant ovally, sloping body with a gracefully rounded neck, not too long and not too short.

It was perfect. Delicate. Beautiful.

When I awoke, I could imagine it as clearly as I am writing about it now. "Had I seen it at IKEA the other day?" I thought to myself. I jumped out of bed and completed my house chores as quickly as I could so that I could return to the IKEA store and purchase the vase. I decided that perhaps I might place tall grasses and dried twigs inside it. I knew exactly how it would look in the corner of our elegant dining room. Mostly I was amazed I had such a vivid dream of a vase like that. Indeed, I could not remember ever having a dream like that before. People, places, journeys, quarrels, love, so much more – yes. But never of a piece of porcelain, and certainly not with such intimate, vivid detail. I could have painted it right then and there.

When I finally managed to make it to IKEA that day, I raced to the Market place area with all its home organizers, fabrics and textiles, kitchen wares, and lighting fixtures. My heart beat with excitement as I wandered into the home decoration section. My eyes scanned the room longingly for my porcelain vase.

No such vase to be found.

There were many glass vases, some tall, others shorter. Greens, blues, pinks. Nothing porcelain, delicate, Asian looking, like the one I had pictured so vividly in my dream.

I was disappointed.

A few days later, yesterday, in fact, I was walking around a home decoration store in Chestnut Hill with Shimon and Laurel. They had driven down from New York for the weekend. Suddenly I remembered my dream of a few days prior and animatedly described it not leaving out a thing, telling them over and over again how amazed I was that I was still able to recall every detail of my beautiful porcelain vase.  My heart was palpitating with excitement again. Laurel, an interior designer, said she knew exactly the type of vase I was describing. She knew what I meant, and I felt she understood.

And then, suddenly, in the midst of our talking, just as my dream was taken seriously by my nephew and his wife, and my excited and amazement feelings were being so validated, I realized that the dream had taken place a day before the surgery to my womb. Eyes shining, I said out loud, "I had the dream just before my surgery!" Shimon nodded understandingly. All three of us said almost with the same voice, at the same moment, "Of course. A vessel." "A beautiful, precious vessel," I almost whispered, "My womb was that vase!"

Laurel beamed. "A healing dream," she said.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Pieces life takes out of you

The muse

I love it when I feel a blog post coming on. It is silent, coming from somewhere in the middle of my chest but radiating through my brain – a tingling sensation. I sit at the computer and stare out the window sensing the words rising into my fingers. And then all of a sudden I begin to type. Clickity-clack at the keyboard, fingers flying. Sometimes I know I have misspelled or written something awkwardly but I press on regardless. Simply needing to get out whatever it is that is rising up and out of me at that moment.

And then … I stop. Pause. Think about what I have written, sometimes even read it over changing a word or grammatical point here or there. This leads me onto yet another thought or feeling, a different idea or turn of phrase, and on I go. Invariably Ada senses something is happening, developing. If she is lying further away from me, she suddenly jumps onto my desk with a chirp and a purr and watches from her little bed perched by the computer.

Of course something inside me is percolating and rising to the surface as I start writing, even if it is only a description of how I write my blog. Perhaps I am not yet aware of the feeling or thoughts behind why the urgency to write – why now at this moment. The reasons might come to me while I am in the process, or sometimes the idea is already there, clear, firm, strong, assertive. Sometimes the inspiration is revealed to me at the very last sentence. I am always amazed when the final sentence, phrase or word just comes out at the end – almost as if somewhere in my brain I always knew how this was supposed to begin and just how it needs to end. As if there was a plan all along.

And sometimes, I find out only later in the day, or even days later, why the urge to write became so intense at that moment. What, in fact, I was really writing about …

On Monday I noticed a status update by Geneen Roth on Facebook:

Think of The Voice as a GPS from the twilight zone. When you follow its directions, you spend your life trying to find streets that no longer exist in a city that vanished decades ago. Then you wonder why you feel so lost.

Was she writing to me directly? These past two days I have been thinking intently about these words, written in exactly this particular way, even talked about them in therapy, shared the phrase with a friend while walking in the Wissahickon yesterday afternoon – yes, I have been working on The Voice all of my life. But never has it been said so clearly, succinctly – made so much sense to me right here and now in this stage of my life.

My writing thread loses its focus. Ada suddenly needs to play with her toy mouse, my sister-in-law chats with me on Facebook, life partner stirs and calls up "Good morning," as he scrambles for that first cup of coffee.

Time to start my day.