Friday, December 29, 2006

We romp through the end of 2006 in Amalfi, surely one of the most delightful towns in all of Italy. It was bright, clear and sunny today and our thin northern blood showed with our linen shirt sleeves and cotton t shirts while the Italians sported the ubitqutous down coats and cashmere scarves. Seems that people have been coming here to the Amalfi coast for either 8,000 or 13,000 years--they aren't sure which. But at any rate, even Odysseus came here. Remember that it was here that he escaped the call of the 3 Sirens, Ligea, Leucosia, and Parthenope. They were so distraught at his escape, they committed suicide. You can see the remains of their 3 earthly forms as little islands off Positano.

We are really enjoying all the Black Madonnas around Positano. The story goes that 12th century sailors coming from the Orient were stranded in the Bay of Positano by a lack of wind. Restless and edgy with no change in the wind, they heard the whisperings in the hold of the boat. It was the exquoite Black Madonna, imploring them to leave her ashore. Without hesitation, they obeyed and drug her to shore and presented her to the people of Positano. The wind immediately picked up and they were on their way. She remains in the Our Lady of Assumption in Positano.

The other completely unique thing of the day was the underwater

Well and then there was the crypt of La Cattedrale di S. Andrea Apostle in Amalfi.

Ah, Italy. It goes on and on, all day.

On Location
Costieria Amalfitana

Thursday, December 28, 2006

So we find ourselves in one of the most enchanting spots of all of Italy: Positano, on the Amalfi coast. It's warm and sunny and the lemons are in harvest and of course the limoncello flows freely. We were in a mercato last evening, each of us selecting our personal bottle of limoncello as we are not ones to share. Angela, la angelli della sorelli, decides to go with the private reserve limoncello on the shelf. It's in a non-descript hourglass bottle with AMALFI stenciled in Sharpie and she laughs and laughs at it, next to all kinds of limoncello in decorative bottles and fancy labels. She is affirmed in a rather unique way as we check out and the checker rings up her bottle, casting a sidelong glance with an 'eh?' to her homeboys sitting nearby as she carefully sacks up the homebrew limoncello. The taste tests have not been scheduled for lack of sign up.

My children have inherited the gift of making friends with locals. They see how easy it is and how you are treated as a honored guest in any city when you extend yourself in friendship and respect. At gelato last night, after I wished the man Buon Anno, we were immediately treated to samples of every kind of gelato he sold, all delicious. Today, I have been laid up with with an airplane flu and my family is amazed that in Italy, if you make friends, you can order whatever you like, whether or not it's on the menu. They brought back a veritable feast of pasta, vegetables and fabulous minestrone soup for me; the Italians bend over backwards for you, even in the off season, to make sure you feel at home. La dolce vita. It's real.

Many of you are wondering about Mass: yes, we did get in. Yes, I ran up the ramp and got up wonderful seats where we saw the whole mass. Benedict, The Holy Father, looked tired and serious. Gave a wonderful homily. It's a thrill and a reassurance that words cannot describe. It was quite disturbing to see everyone at mass treat him like a rock star, standing on chairs to snap photos, inside St. Peter's, and leaving before he had exited the center aisle. I can only liken it to coming out of a theater in New York in 2001 December and watching two couples from Kansas say to each other, "What do you want to do now? Go listen to jazz uptown or go down to Ground Zero?" Even midnight mass at Vaticano is a tourist attraction. But now I know. Next time we'll go to Il Jesu.

We were fortunate to have a marvelous guide at St. Peter's the next day; she also has many friends--she got us backstage, The Crying Room at Sistina. It was unreal. Joe Montana cried. This is the room where The Pope goes immediately after he is elected to cry, to pray and to suit up. The stairway to the balcony where he appears to the people for the first time is right there. It was an unbelievable stroke of good luck. Our tour guide told me she asked because she knew it meant much to us. MUCH. much? La dolce vita.

And so 2007 looms and we march toward that beautiful silk carpet of months that awaits our kickstart , unrolling into a new year.

La dolce vita.

On Location
Positano, Italy

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Two posts in one day which I never, ever do because it would be like letting your food touch your other food on your plate. But yesterday was such an amazing day. Damn mail just blew my doors off.

My friend Melody sent me, hands down, the most beautiful book I have ever been given. It is about plants and how they got their names. It has utterly exquisite drawings and pictures, of course, lovely, lovely beautiful paper and binding and in short, dropped my jaw and brought me to my knees in the middle of the day. I keep a certain composure at the office, try to, but I had to close my door for several minutes after I opened this gift. I*am*unusually*blessed. I have friends that I just don't deserve and my friend Melody knows the parts of me that are...difficult and tricky to access. Truly, this gift, this book is the miracle they talk about this time of year. I am in tears as I watch the sun come up over Riverfront Park; I have no words for how it feels to have such a gift come from so far away and to have it touch you and hold you in such a private, secret place. Life. Just when you give up on it, it rings your doorbell and Melody is standing on your front porch.

My friend Rod sent me what is surely an artifact of the American theatre. I received an fully autographed copy of the Playbill of Doubt, the Pulitzer prize winning play, now in theatres across the country. Rod just happened to have his own autograph on this Playbill as he is a member of the cast. ( Just how freaking sweet is that?) But near the masthead is the signature of the great, great Cherry Jones, the doyenne of the American theatre. sigh. Lord have mercy, what is happening to me? How is it that I am the target of such beneficence?

I am humbled and honored. No matter what you put out there and what you throw in, you always get more back. Always.

The 'Kan EWA
The excitement is mounting. The final on the Mary Triology remains firmly locked away in my dizzy head, which judging from my reflection in the window as I look out over downtown The 'Kan EWA, is about 20 years older than it usually is. I look old and tired. I feel old and tired. But the art in the new office is installed and hung and it looks fabulous. Here I would tie in with some very subtle joke about being hung but I don't have the damn time this morning. I have Christmas breakfast with my felon at 10 am and before that have to slam dunk one final set of financial statements, which these days I can pull out of my butt in hours, as long as I have a full set of bank statements and debt confirms. Problem I see with that is that I don't know if that skill is exactly the stuff I want my real resume to be made of; for the moment, I am not going to think about it , but rather think about The Eternal City, which is waiting for me. They are getting out the candles, checking the incense inventory and make sure those albs are sparkling clean. I know that Benedict, The Holy See, is feeling especially special about this midnight mass, because he will have some of his own people there, i tedeschi, and they willl be far from home. He is going to be really glad to see us. :)

And so the countdown to Natale begins. whee.

Bellemaison, still
The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The next part of the Mary trilogy is the part that I really like to think about. Here's the story:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

I love that story. It's my favorite of Christmas. And I think of it other times of year when I am troubled and doubtful because it has all the pieces that I pick up and use when I am thrust into a situation that I had not anticipated.

For instance, the fear. Do not be afraid. I need to hear this about eight times a day. Do not be afraid. My friend Wendy says that all of human interaction is a result of either fear or love. She says everything boils down to just that: fear or love. There is so much of life, and love, that frightens me. I am so afraid of the unknown, my own limitations, my shortcomings, my famous impatience. I'm afraid of not being able to manage, not having a perfect response, not knowing the answer; not knowing at all. I'm afraid of being judged as unworthy and inept. And in those times, I can feel the dark settle about my shoulders as if it were a coveted collar, worn in special company. Fear is my default position of choice. Such a luxury.

Mary had to be shocked with fear when Gabriel came to her with the news of impending motherhood. Just what would the neighbors think? How was she to tell her own mother and father? How could she mother a baby with an old man as the father? How in the world was this all going to work out? And, was she supposed to have sex with this guy once she claimed him as the baby's father? What? And what else was Gabriel not telling her? I love to think about her as Gabriel went into the details and how she processed the incredible scenario he laid out.

The other part of that story that I love to think about are all the possible out loud reactions to what Gabriel was saying that would have, could have been legitimate. This is a terrible time of year to be pregnant. I have finals; as long as we're spinning the Tale Fantastic, could this baby be born when it's a little more convenient? I want a better father, a legitimate life partner, somebody that will make me laugh and who is handsome. What about my job? Hey, this is my body; don't I have any say in the matter?

But as the story goes, she didn't. She said, May it be done to be according to your word. Here's why that inspires me: I can think of a half a dozen times in my life when I was presented with unlikely, improbable and unpromising assignments of life that come to each of us unbidden. Wendy calls them AFGOs, or another fucking growth opportunity(s). On these particular times, when I was minding my own business and along comes these unsolicited megadevelopments, I allowed myself to be open to challenge, to possibility and somehow, incredibly, made a conscious effort not to be scared. I just decided. And these were the times I landed a sweet windfall, made a friend for all time, learned a lesson that neither of my parents learned or grew 10 inches taller, figuratively. These were the times that I went forward in faith and love and low and behold, found myself mothering Our Lord, so to speak.

So to speak. Seems a little blasphemous to say it out loud. But I am saying it and this as well: I need to be a little more Mary, a lot more Mary, and a little less Belle. In and out of advent. I need to take off the fear collar and put it away for all time and be confident that no matter my inadequacies, I can still mother anyone. So to speak.

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception was on Friday. This is in celebration of the day Mary got the word that she had been chosen to be the Mother. Since my own mother died 10 years ago, I think about Mary a lot. She was on the one stumbling block of Catholicism that I could never come to terms with; Mary as an icon of adoration made no sense to me until, until, my own mother died. Then I was finally ready to understand. Ah, the epiphanies I experience if I just let myself be open to pain. So I have thought about Mary a lot in the last ten years, talked to her a lot, begged her for mercy on behalf of my children and in general, joined forces with the Sweet Virgin Mary in advocacy of my children and their needs, trials and tribulations. She is my solace, my comfort, my assurance. And, she talks back. She pops into my head and into my heart with her soft voice, mostly telling me not to worry. She knows me. On the other hand, haven't heard a thing from my mother since the day she left, August 1996. I know Mom is in a really good place and is laughing and singing. I know the next time I see her that's how I will find her.

So Mary was chosen to be the Mother. Young girl, old husband. What a mess. I liked the part about her not questioning, at least not in her out loud voice. She was destined to be a mother! Absorbing all the inputs, taking a quick inventory of available resources, then quietly moving into an action plan to care for her family. This is our Girl.

I think somehow on some plain, I was chosen for motherhood, too. It happened to me and was upon me before I literally knew what was afoot; I never questioned it. I never planned it. I never formed selection criteria for the fathers. I moved into it with no misgiving. It was only after my children came through another phase of their maturation that I realized how bad I was at it but amazingly, I was going to get another shot at getting it right. And so they stay right with me today, these exquisite creatures, these children of mine. How did I get so lucky to get them? Why me?

They have shaped my life and made me the person I am. Would I give the time and money that I do to charitable causes if it weren't for my children? I hope so. But I don't know. Through them, I saw and learned about all kinds of other kids and mothers who were working off a different set of inputs and available resources. I knew immediately that I had to be more and give more to everyone if I was going to be the best possible mother for Them, my own children.

I would not have the career I have and the life it brings me if it weren't for my children. I was their sole support when then were just little kids. If they got changed into dry clothes, had a sandwich, were read a story, lived in a house with lights and heat or received affirmation or experienced joy in any given day, it came from me. The responsibility from being the whole universe to my darling children made me who I am today and easily lets me understand that I and I alone am responsible for my own happiness and my own well-being. That understanding has brought me great rewards in business and in life, and if it weren't for being a mother, I might still be trying to figure that one out.

The one thing I learn over and over from being a mother is that it's not about me. It couldn't be less about me than it is. And I am so grateful for that. As my children played on all kinds of teams and became involved in all kinds of activities, I began to see women on similar paths as me, working hard to provide a good life for their families and to understand the best long term goals. It was always fascinating for me to watch and observe the conversations over breakfast, on the sidelines, as the work of a project endured and listen to different mothers who were happy, and unhappy, with the course of their children's lives or their husband's careers or their own marriages. It was the women who were not afraid to let their children fail, let their husband co-parent, it was the women who were completely willing to give themselves up to their family and their marriage and the rollers of joy and pain who were the happiest. And they were not happy at the hand of slavish devotion; they were happy because they were part of a symbiotic experience where the sum of the parts was greater than the whole. Their families were emotionally powerful. They lived in love and not in fear.

So when you are a mother and doing your best work, it's not about you. It's never about you. And then, at some point, it becomes completely about you. Ah, the evolution of adoration.

So I think about Mary; I am deeply grateful to her. I have learned so much. And much of the time now, it's about me. Odd. But I do not deserve any of this credit. The credit goes to my children. They are the ones who chose to persevere; they are the ones who chose to walk through life in a respectful, loving manner. They are the ones who honor me. I just happened to be here because I was chosen, like Mary.

Me, Lord? It's me?

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Eleanor Rigby's newphew, Raymond, wrote quite a poem over at his place. He's Snug's dad.

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, December 02, 2006

From The Scottsdale ShelT
(Your Kentucky Derby Winner name!)

My friend Shell had this going at Pixie Lair and I LOVED it. Sylvie Ruth wanted me to post her names but Dorothy took her down and said today, definitely today, it's MY turn. Back off! Sylvie!

So here we go.

1. YOUR REAL NAME: Dorothy or Red Dorothy

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first three letters of your name, plus izzle) Dorizzle

3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three of your last) DSchmi

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (fav color and fav animal) Red Dog!

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, town where you were born) Lynn Priest River

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name, first 3 letters of mom's maiden name) Schmidotim

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (second favorite color, favorite drink) Red Dirty Water

8. IRAQI NAME: (2nd letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, any letter of your middle name, 2nd letter of your moms maiden name, 3rd letter of you dads middle name, 1st letter of a siblings first name, last letter of your moms middle name): Ohniwse

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne) Rotten Fish

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother & father's middle name. ) Timberlake Lawrence

By any name, the weekend is lovely, isn't it?

The 'Kan EWA