Sunday, July 29, 2007

The saga

Ah yes, dear readers, the saga of my search for a hom3e has taken yet another twisty turn. Let me summarize:

1. Last November I began looking for a house to buy. I was checking 4 or 5 small towns in western Massachusetts. I wanted a house with everything available on the main level, no basement seepage, garage or room to build one, room for washer/dryer on main level, 3 bedrooms, good storage.

2. In Dec I found "The House" . It had two large optional land units that I did not bid on, did not want. Someone else bid on the house and the optional land. Poof. My bid gone.

3. I looked at house after house after house etc. (as you well know)Months later the For Sale sign was still not off "The House". The Dec. deal had fallen through, but they had repackaged the deal as house with LOTS of pricey land included in one price.

4. Several weeks ago they called asking if we were still interested. They ended up with one offer on the land and my new offer on the house. Yahoooo!!!

5. Retract Yahooo. the contractor buying the land wants added land from my house parcel which is configured in such a way as to make the house much less attractive. I withdraw bid for house of my dreams.

6. The next weekend I found another house!!! It is lovely -- and if teh bid goes through I'll tell you about it. But until then am waiting on pins and needles.

I just keep getting anxious and then singing "I surrender all..I surrender all.." as that is all that is keeping me from breaking out in hives. This entire process is about letting go for me -- letting go of my eagerness to relocate. Letting go of Mom's antiques. Letting go of thinking I have any finite control over the outcomes.

So I am just asking God to house me and surrendering.

Over and over and over again.

And being thankful.

Over and over and over again.

I figure if I keep doing it, I'll get it right.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I've taken the long way home

When I was a little girl in New England, our mothers would take my friend and me down to the riverside to swim and picnic. Across the road from the embankment that led to the river was a big open field. Once a year, in late summer, the back of the field would be filled with a small string of trucks and trailers, all-tumbledown and rangy looking, some even looked like hand-made shacks being pulled by fat 1950’s cars. At night you could see the campfires burning, hear music and echoes of laughter. When I asked my Mom who they were, she said “Gypsies”. They weren’t like Olde Worlde Gypsies, like the gypsy in my genealogy that ran off with a Frenchman’s noble daughter. These weren’t the wild-hearted gypsies in my mother’s bloodline that my father blamed for all he feared in me. And they weren’t the ones I always suspected deep in my heart had left me on my parents’ doorstep with a note to raise me well and a bag of jewels wrapped in a handkerchief to see me through.

No, these were farming gypsies, who would appear around harvest to pick crops. They lived in a sympathetic farmer’s field every year. They were rumored to be of some European origin, but no one we knew was really sure where they had come from. They came and went like a whirl of smoke, never staying long enough for anyone to get to know them before they were gone. For weeks after they left, people blamed missing objects on “the gypsies” as though even in absentia they could lift watches from bureaus in houses they had never entered. Still, every year for many years they came and went as regular as the seasons.

I envied them, imagining a wandering life that took root in me over the years. In fairy tales, parents were supposed to keep their children away from the gypsies, for fear they would be beguiled away, lured by the romance of caravans and violins, kerchiefs and dances in the firelight, the shimmer of silver and the reflection in the fortune-teller’s glass.

And so, because the gypsy in my blood heard the siren call of the farming gypsies, I became a wanderer, living in Nebraska, rural Massachusetts, the city or mountains of Colorado, Appalachia, and several industrial towns in Ohio. The hills of Vermont, the heart of New York City, a house on banks of the Thames, a small town in New Jersey all were home-ish. Not homes, but home-ish. Nothing gave me more joy than to travel, to be on the move. I have twice taken 3 month driving road trips alone, with no destination pre-planned. I have wandered not because I was looking for happiness, but because wandering made me happy. I took delight in discovery, in new horizon lines. The mystery of other languages was hypnotic. I wanted to drink in as much as I could see and hear and touch. I had a job that required abundant international travel. I filled a passport with entry stamps and needed new pages.

But I always touched base for a feeling of home with my parents, specifically my mother, in Massachusetts. It was there that I reported back the results of my wanderings, brought the souvenirs, told the stories. I tumbled the tales of my journeying like shiny pebbles into her lap and we gazed at them together, marveling at the smoothness of one, the shininess of another. Then I would be gone again, gathering more sights and sounds and experiences to bring home again. For that was always home, the link to my childhood. Even in the thirteen years of my marriage when I said “home” in the deepest way, I always meant New England. The gypsies had stolen my heart, but not before New England had claimed me as her own.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I surrender

It was late at night -- in fact it was closer to early morning, and I could not sleep. Tossing and turning kept me in that roiling state between sleeping and being marginally awake all night. I would have half-dreams about things unresolved in my life, or decisions to make, or things to do. Tossing and turning had me unsettled and frustrated.

Finally I gave up and turned on the TV. Oprah was on the Oxygen network with a show about her mingling with her audience. Apparently she stays around to answer questions and chat sometimes, and it is filmed. I can usually count on Oprah to have something to say to interest me, so I listened.

When I tuned in she had been talking to a couple who had been trying in vitro fertilization for some time without success. The woman was tormented with sadness at what she felt was her failure and overwhelmed with fear of disappointing her husband and her family. She just had kept trying and trying and trying but to no avail. She just kept pushing away at something that wasn't happening.

At this point Oprah got very soft, very tender -- she looked deep into this womans eyes and told her that she needed to find peace, and that she wasn't going to find peace until she surrendered her attachment to the outcome.

She spoke to her about the need to do the best that she could, and then to let her life happen. To let her life happen. Big words. She said (basically) " If you can find this acceptance of the fact that your life may be bigger than you know, finer than you imagine, and you let God or the universe unfold it for you -- then you will have what you do not have now -- and that is peace, whether or not you have a child."

Then she did a remarkable thing. She sang to the woman, telling her that the words were part of an old hymn that was important to her. And like a mother singing a lullabye to her child, she sang softly to this woman -- "I surrender all -- I surrender all...."

I found myself weeping. I felt the burden of all the foolish and not so foolish things *I* have been pushing against. I felt the loneliness of believing wrongly that I had to do everything alone. The acid of that heresy had ground into my sleep. I needed to let it go. I have done my best.

Chief among my agitations was finding and supporting a house. It is taking so long that I am worried that it may be the wrong direction -- or am I to try and stick to it, to persevere in faith? I think what I am supposed to do is to live my life and let it happen. To keep looking but not to put my life on hold while I do. To just let it unfold. To know that I have done enough. To know that my best is enough.

I find myself humming those lines .."I surrender all..I surrender all.." through the day.

And I am finding comfort.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Happy Almost Belated Bastille Day !!

I just noticed that today was Bastille Day! AS Wikipedia says :
"Bastille Day is the French national holiday, celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is called "Fête Nationale" ("National Holiday"), in official parlance, or more commonly "quatorze juillet" ("14th of July"). It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the storming of the Bastille was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern French "nation", and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution."

On Bastille Day, 1966 I travelled from Chicago to Munich with The Foreign Language League to meet up with a group of American high school students who would travel to Austria together and study there while living in the small Austrian village of Seefeld.

Seefeld was idyllic, nestled in the Alps and looking for all intents and purposes like a postcard.

Given the fact that the only reason anyone in my family ever left a country was to emigrate, it was A VERY huge deal that my parents sent me on this journey. I was(and felt like) their ambassador into the world.

In sending me there, they gave me an enormous gift -- the gift of travel at a formative age. It allowed me to see how big the world was -- to understand that things were very different outside of America, and very wonderful in many ways. I saw great art, beautiful scenery. From the magnificant castles built by crazy King Ludwig in Bavaria to the placid Swiss cows with beribboned cowbells, everything was new and amazing.

The trip gave me a peripheral vision that I do not think I would have had elsewise. It shaped me in every way I can imagine.

So here is to travel -- to having our eyes pried open, to seeing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Maybe a miracle?

My realtor got a call from a realtor last night who is handling a house I bid on last December. They did not accept my bid at that time as they were trying to sell the house and two adjoining lots -- and when I bid for the house someone else bid for the whole package. That fell through and they have been on the market with only a whole-package-deal since. They called my realtor who has stayed in touch -- and told her that they have a bid on the whole deal, but would also entertain my bid on the house. It's hard to figure why, but be it. I have resubmitted and am keeping my fingers crossed.

I've been working hard trying to visualize a great outcome, and I hope this is God's way of saying "Here it is!" and not God's way of delivering another message about the correct management of disappointment.

So I will just stay positive, say my prayers and hope.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moving right along

Well, Monday was a big day. No, I have not found THE house, yet. But I feel that I am coming closer. I saw two places that were very close to perfect. But each had a "tragic flaw" -- one had zero room for a dog. The yard was postage stamp sized. The other was at the top of my price range - the tip top -- and had an interior renovation that was only half done -- and was going to stay that way for the new owner to finish. Top that off with the fact that one house was so close to the neighbors that we could have had breakfast together without leaving our own kitchens. But the houses were so much closer, on the whole. to what I want. So that is a good omen.

The big thing in my day was the surrendering over to the auction gallery of the antiques that I have agreed to sell. The gallery's moving truck pulled up at the storage facility and within an hour or so, *poof* , a lot of things were gone. It felt right.

Then I printed, enveloped, addressed and mailed my entry into a writer's contest that will, God willing, result in a $10,000 prize. That would be just dandy. Super dandy in fact.

But the point is that I spent the whole day moving my life forward -- into the welcome unknown.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Asian? Please Read. Not Asian? Read and Pass along!!!

I am a contributing editor at A fellow editor, snigdhasen, who is Indian just posted a moving message about the need for bone marrow from South Asian donors, and listed a few people's stories. The need is URGENT. Here is a direct lift from her article.

In November last year, Vinay Chakravarthy, a 28-year-old orthopedics resident at the Boston Medical Center, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a life-threatening cancer of the blood. A month ago his leukemia relapsed and he was informed that he needed a bone marrow transplant. Vinay's friends swung into action. They approached the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and together they have been organizing donor registration drives across the country. Their target population: South Asians.

The NMDP tells me that a cross-racial match is not impossible, but far less probable. The closer the ethnicity, the higher the chances of a perfect match.

This is where Vinay and his friends hit their first roadblock. Of the over six million registered donors, 415,000 are Asians. That's less than 7 percent. Vinay's website says South Asians form barely one percent of those registered. A press release issued by those conducting the drive for Vinay also states that while a Caucasian has a 1 in 15 chance of finding a match, a South Asian has 1 in 20,000 chance of finding one. (I am waiting for the NMDP to confirm these figures)

Now, that's a significant shortage, given that the Census Bureau estimates the country's Asian Indian population to be 2.5 million. The estimates also say that 49 percent of “single-race Asians 25 and older [...] have a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. This compares to 27 percent for all people 25 and older.”

So what exactly is all that education doing for us?

For Vinay, the lack of registered South Asian donors was only the first hurdle. Vinay's messages about how he's doing are regularly posted on the website. Here's what happened on June 21:

"Today I found out that I almost had a match. But the South Asian donor(s) is “not available”. I’m utterly devastated. I’d known that Asians as a whole came through with a whopping 60% failure rate (lower than any other ethnic group) to actually agree to the donation process once they were identified as a match, but I thought my match would be that special 40% who would do anything to save a fellow brother’s life.
Among many of the reasons South Asians generally give for declining, some say “their family would not support their donation process”. I have a question for all my Indian brothers and sisters out there: Since when did our families start to come in the way of us helping another fellow human being?? We pride ourselves on having good family values. I ask you now to remember those values that we hold so dear because that is what makes our community so special.”

What's stopping so many South Asian registered donors from following through? In an article about Vinay, ABC News quotes Dr. Galen Switzer of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as saying:

We find with Asian-Americans [...]that the decision to donate is not made by the individual. Instead, it's a decision the family will make together. Many donors express concern that their families will not support the idea of donating.

Now Vinay's friends and supporters have made this drive not only about finding a perfect match for him or even increasing the number of South Asian registrants. They want this drive to be about finding committed donors.

Unfortunately, Vinay is not the only South Asian in dire need of a matching donor. Thirty-one-year-old Sameer Bhatia, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur from San Francisco, was diagnosed with AML in May, and needs a bone marrow transplant. His friends and family joined “Team Vinay” and together are trying to recruit committed donors ASAP.

The clock is ticking. Vinay may need a transplant as early as July 20. For that, his search for the perfect match will have to end by July 9. Sameer probably has less than two months for his transplant.

Team Vinay has completed 172 drives (over 10,000 have registered since the drives began), and promises to keep up the effort all through summer. Their website,, is packed with information about marrow donation, how to register, stories of successful donors and upcoming drives. You will also find information about how pregnant women can help by donating umbilical cords.


OK folks the full article on" and let folks know -- chime in with your own blogs by linking in to the BlogHer article at Let's do what helping good that we can. We are all in this together -- all part of the same human community.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Many long ago 4ths

Every 4th was the same when I was little. Our cocker spaniel, Princess, was terrified of noises like thunder or fireworks, so Mom stayed home and cuddled Princess while Dad took my best friend, Sandy, and I to the park to watch the fireworks.

I grew up in a small town of less than 20,000 people in western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains. A river ran through town, and along the river was a broad man-made dike. It was considered unwise for young girls to "walk the dike" alone, as there was the risk of running into what were then called "hobos" who would camp out between riding the rails on the local train tracks.

But around sunset on the 4th of July the whole town seemed to be out walking the dike to get to the park. It sure was easier than trying to find parking in the tiny lot in the tiny park. Families would be be greeting each other, carrying blankets, coolers, and lawn chairs down the grassy path through sumac trees and chokecherry trees. The route smelled green and grassy, warmed in the day's heat and the humidity of the nearby river.

Stationed along the dike at regular intervals were members of the local AmVets chapter. The AmVets funded the fireworks display every year, and they collected donations each year to help defray the cost. Everyone gave to the AmVets. Everyone. It was something you just did. It felt like a duty.

When we got to the park, we'd set out our blankets and listen to the town band, which assembled for this purpose and the Memorial Day and Veteran's Day parades. They would be in the park gazebo, and would play patriotic songs and Souza marches. Vendors would sell popcorn and soda, and the whole place would be buzzing with anticipation, as night began to settle in.

As night began to fall, people would start chanting, "FIREworks, FIREworks, FIREworks..." but the Amvets knew it made no sense to waste good fireworks in twilight.

Sandy and I would discretely crane our heads around to see who else was there -- specifically what boys had arrived. We'd giggle and sit there chatting as though we really were not interested as the boys drove by showing off on their bright bicycles.

Finally the first test launches were done, and the anticipation was almost palpable.
We settled back on our blankets, looking up at the night sky and waiting for that wonderful sound - -that pop-whoooosh of a firework being ignited. Then BANG and a shower of color.

There were sunbursts and chrysanthemum-shaped explosions, rockets and ground displays, multi color patterns and explosions that changed colors. There were surprise BOOOOOOMS at the end of a display, or little showers of gold coming out of nowhere. This was magic of the first order.

And then came the Grand Finale where multiple rockets were set off at once and in close sequence. The sound and smells and colors and varieties were absolutely thrilling.

It never seemed to last long enough, and before we knew time had passed, we were walking back home, always convinced that this year's display was the best year yet.

I loved the sweet simplicity of those years. I miss the feelings of safety and community. Yes it was Independence Day, but in so many ways it felt so delightfully predictable year to year in a little town where we also felt interdependent, and that was a lovely feeling indeed.
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