Thursday, December 31, 2015

Action Plan 2016

How will I fill the pages of the calendar for 2016? How will I tell my story?
How will I be more kind? More gentle? More present?
How will I find time with my family? My friends? My thoughts?
How will I read more books? How will I write more books?
How will I be a better cook? A better piano player? A better person?
How will I listen better to other people? Or listen to more music? Or listen to more silence?
How will I take care of my body? My spirit? My prayer?
How will I be more patient? More vulnerable? More loving?
How will I want fewer things and more experiences?
I'll start with a decision to be these things, to do these things.
And practice. I'm going to need practice.
And I will start over new again every day. Often many times in a day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Look Down but Also Look Up

Mr. Rosenberg and Bob jumping into the swimming hole.

Yesterday was our last full day on the island. We visited a large ranch and together with three lovely families and two tour guides we loaded into a van. The guides led the way. They were funny and smart and knew how to keep us safe.

We hiked in ankle deep mud, the kind that threatens to suction the shoes off your feet. When I remembered to look up from the mess at my feet, I took in the extreme beauty of the path we were on. 

I rowed a kayak for the first time since 2002. The creek was narrow and I got caught sideways once and recreated the Austin Powers luggage cart scene trying to right myself. I rowed on. I was surrounded by trees and vines that made a canopy overhead.

We took turns zip lining across a small valley of green. When I sat back and made myself breathe as I crossed the line, I witnessed a lush carpet of fern down below and the cloud-patchwork sky up above. 

The guys jumped  into the swimming hole near a waterfall. I just had my hair blown out the day before so I did not get wet because priorities. It was fun to watch the swimmers and take in the loveliness of the scene. 

In the new year, I wish you the drive to do something scary or uncomfortable or muddy because you know the outcome will be worth it. I wish you the determination to keep your eyes on the road and still have the mindfulness to look up and notice the beauty around you. Look for the guides. Enjoy your adventure.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

About Tamir

"What were you and Dad talking about?"

"Remember when we talked about that little black boy in Cleveland that was playing with a toy gun?"

"The one that the policeman shot?"


"Why were you talking about that?"

"We just found out that a grand jury decided not to charge the policeman."

"How can they do that? I don't understand."

"I don't either."

"Do you think that would probably never happen to me but it could happen more to Malik because he's black?"

"I do."

"That's unacceptable, Mom."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dear Future Me

Future Me is a writing project site. Write a letter to your one-year-in-the-future self, and it will be emailed to you in one year.

I did this today. I told myself what accomplishments I am proud of in 2016: projects completed, books read, relationships cherished. Stretching my brain to envision my ideal year-from-now was fun and more difficult than I had anticipated. It was like backing in to a list of New Year's resolutions from the other side.

You should super do it.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Smacksy Saturday Photo: No Rain, No Rainbows

We arrived on Kaua'i late last night and woke up this morning to this beautiful view. Ordered coffee for four. (Me, me, me, and Jeff.) Bob and I are still in pajamas, three hours later. Jeff is off running in the rain on the beach. Wishing you all a wonderful Boxing Day.

Merry Merry Retro Bob


Thursday, December 24, 2015

About Mr. Claus

"Mom? Do you think Santa just comes right through the front door since we don't have a chimney?"


"He must have a special key that opens every door in the whole world."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Mary

Are you guys pre-holiday tired like I am? I thought I was all wrapped and ready for Christmas and then found myself at the market tonight, standing in a long line to panic-buy a cauliflower. What the hell? I have begun taking things off my to-do list and pushing the to-do to the new year and only doing the absolute most necessary items I have listed. Still can't explain the cauliflower.

Thought you might like this post, originally from 2009, about my time on the stage portraying The Holy Mary Mother of God.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christian, Two Muslims, and a Jew Walk Into a Dining Room...

Last night, we went to the home of our neighbors for a celebration. Our friends are Persian and every year on December 21, they celebrate the arrival of winter, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness on a holiday called Yalda.

Traditionally, Yalda is celebrated throughout the night and into the morning. We were with our friends until 10:00pm which is nearly all night for us since we usually turn in around 8:30pm. The dining table was filled with sweets and nuts and cheese and red fruits like watermelon and pomegranate, symbolizing the crimson hues of daybreak and the glow of life. Our hostess is an outstanding baker and she made some little chickpea flour cookies that I need more of in my life.

During the evening, there is a reading of the classic poetry of Divan-e-Hafiz. It is customary to ask a question about life and then turn to a random page in a collection of Hafiz poems, and the verse that you turn to is said to reveal the answer to your question. I took a turn with a Hafiz reading and the answer to my question was on theme with some uncanny details.

We ate and talked for close to three hours. (My two favorite hobbies.) I hope we'll be invited back because I am on board with everything about this holiday. I wish you all a lovely winter solstice.

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive. - Hafiz

Monday, December 21, 2015

He's Coming To Town

"Mom? I think we should get real milk for Santa this year."

"Why? He drank the almond milk last year."

"I know but I think he just drank that to be nice."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Smacksy Sunday Links

The melancholy before the merry.

How different people live in identical apartments. 

Ricky and Doris and their unconventional friendship.

Rare photos of Frida Kahlo.

And dogs in the snow. 

Happy Sunday.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Your Point?

"Thanks for being at the class party today, Mom."

"Sure. It was fun."

"You sure brought home a lot of cookies."

"I had to bring home all of the uneaten ones."

"What do you mean had to?"

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Every year, I attempt to take a good photo of Teddy wearing this fetching Santa hat in front of the tree. Every year, I plead and cajole and bribe. This time he lied down on the floor and refused to get up. I managed to get this one picture before he pulled the hat off. Next year I will try for more of a "jolly good elf" shot and less of this "why do you hate me" look. Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

31 Perfect Things

One of my favorite bloggers, Leo Babauta, recently posted his own version of a holiday gift guide:

"We don’t need to buy things to make our lives beautiful or joyous. We don’t need more glamorous items in our lives to find happiness and contentment. We can find these wonderful qualities in what’s already in front of us."

Leo has inspired my own perfect gift guide. Gifts are everywhere.

  1. Peaches.
  2. Baby neck scent.
  3. This poem by Rumi. 
  4. The sound of the ocean.
  5. This lovely Elvis Costello song about dementia.
  6. Dorothy Parker's short story The Phone Call.
  7. This scene from Laverne and Shirley.
  8. French roast coffee.
  9. My son's sleeping face.
  10. This version of David Bowie's Loving the Alien.
  11. Gustav Klimt's The Kiss.
  12. Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.
  13. The smell of redwood trees.
  14. Kindness.
  15. Lupita Nyong'o. 
  16. This pre-Downton film.
  17. Lemons.
  18. The Austin Powers three point turn. Kills me every time.
  19. Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes by Raymond Carver
  20. Sunrise.
  21. Nat King Cole's voice.
  22. Madame Bovary.
  23. Nina Simone's version of Wild is the Wind.
  24. My husband, playing the guitar on Sunday afternoon.
  25. Will Ferrell, you guys. WILL FERRELL.
  26. Dog noses.
  27. This Fiona Apple song.
  28. The Age of Innocence. 
  29. Mexican wedding cookies.
  30. The Amalfi Coast.
  31. You.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015


"Desmond, look. Four days and the new Star Wars movie comes out. Four days. Hashtag EPIC, right?"

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Smacksy Saturday Photo: 9lbs 3oz

"Mom! Only one more week until Christmas break! How did the year go so fast?"

"I know. It was just ten minutes ago that you were a tiny baby."

"Mom, I'm pretty sure I was never that tiny of a baby."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ho ho ho

"Mom? Today we got to pick our subject for our arctic mammal reports."

"Great. What did you come up with?"

"I picked Santa."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

About the Force

"Look, Mom. Me and Felix made Star Wars shirts at the Holiday Workshop thing."


"We're super excited about The Force Awakens."

"I heard there are already people camped out in line for the movie and it doesn't even open until next week."

"What? That's crazy! Maybe I'm not as excited as I thought I was. Okay, I guess I'm only pretty much very excited."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

More Eavesdropping on the Fellas

"You know, Felix? I think if you fall down in heaven, you won't even hurt yourself."

"Yeah, you're right."

"Do you think animal heaven and people heaven is together?"


"I wonder what God's face looks like."

"I guess we'll find out one day, Bob."

Monday, December 7, 2015

Excellent Observation Skills

Photo Trina Jaconi Biery

"Hey, Bob's Mom?"

"What's up, Felix?"

"I was just wondering... do you ever vacuum your house?"

"Sure, why?"

"There's just so much dog hair all over the floor I thought maybe you didn't have a vacuum."

Friday, December 4, 2015

Feliz Navidad

"Mom? On my calendar, it says that next week there's something called Virgen de Guadalupe Day. What's that?"

"The Virgen de Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. It's the day they celebrate her, I guess."

"Okay, but what's a virgin?"

"I can not have this conversation on one cup of coffee."

"Okay. You catch up. I'll wait."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Yuletide Carols

"Oh, Mom! Turn this up! It's my favorite Christmas song. What's it called?"

"It's called 'The Christmas Song.'"



"Who's singing?"

"Nat King Cole. His is the best version."

"Mom? I think we should listen to Christmas music in the car everyday until Christmas."

"I think so too."

"Except when we're in the drop-off line at school, we can turn it off then."

"I was planning on rolling all the windows down and singing along for everyone in the drop-off line."

"Oh my gosh, Mom. Please. No. Please."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Good Morning From Teddy

Hello! Pay no attention to that half-eaten bathroom trash I am sitting on to make it invisible! And I'm pretty sure the garbage strewn through the hallway was already like that when I got there! Hold on - the mailman is here. I have to welcome him to the front steps by barking wildly until he gets back in that no-door truck of his.

I'm back. While you play piano, I will sit under the piano bench howling. Don't mind me. I love Mozart but your teacher is right, you should practice more. Wait a sec, I have an itch RIGHT THERE OMG MAKE IT STOP ITCHING. ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED. Thanks. So much better now. May I have a snack please? Who's a good boy?! Must we go through this again? Me. It's me. I'm a good boy. I'll just be staring at you three inches from your face waiting for you to get out of the big chair so I can sit in it.

Have a great morning. And if you're done with that apple with almond butter smeared on it, I can take that off your hands for you, no prob.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Giving Tuesday Wish List

It's Giving Tuesday, a day to remind us to share our time and wealth with those less fortunate. I have picked three of our favorite charitable organizations to give to this year to give you some ideas.

Heifer International  Heifer is perhaps most famous for their buy an animal program. Giving an animal (A goat, a cow, a flock of chickens) is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs, and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food, and a sustainable livelihood. Last year, Bob bought chickens for a family in Mr. Rosenberg's name, as a Hanukkah gift. (It took awhile to explain to Bob that the chickens would not be coming to our house first.) Until midnight tonight, your contribution will be matched dollar for dollar to help Haitian farm families.

The Midnight Mission The Mission, serving the population of skid row in downtown Los Angeles, offers a bridge to self-sufficiency for the homeless through engagement, education, training, and job placement. They provide food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene, needs, and medical care. The Mission supports a twelve-step approach to recovery that is very close to my heart.

Doctors Without Borders For Doctors Without Borders, the ability to respond quickly to medical humanitarian emergencies is crucial to saving more lives. Unrestricted funds allow them to allocate resources most efficiently and where the needs are greatest. They help refugees, those caught in the way of armed conflict, victims of natural disasters, and forgotten people. This is our Rosenberg go-to organization to give to when the global news events of the day leave us feeling helpless.