"My Story Lives is a cornucopia of hope and optimism in the midst of challenging and sometimes dark circumstances. You're doing great work!" Dr. Mel Waldman, Psychologist'

"In my opinion, this is one of the BEST LITERARY sites ever created!!" Camincha, San Francisco Bay Area poet and writer

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Paintings for the People I Love!!

Painting for my husband's office in Washington, D.C. when he worked on health care reform in 2009. 

Painting in my son Noah's apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (he has several other paintings and I joke that he is my Brooklyn gallery :) This painting measures five feet by three feet, and is the largest painting I have done so far.

 Painted for my husband's cousin, Liz, who lives in California. The painting is three feet by four feet.

Daffodils painted for my daughter, Lindsay, who lives in Denver. Painting is three feet by four feet.

Painting commissioned by my friend Rebecca on the occasion of her wedding in Northampton, Massachusetts in July 2012.This painting measurs four feet by three feet. Do you see the couple facing
 each other? The bride wears white.

Painting for my daughter Jocelyn and her husband, Evan, on the occasion of their new apartment in Brookline, Massachusetts. This painting measures three feet by two feet. I call this my "Circus Painting."

Painted for my sister Karen, this one will hang in her soon-to-be home in Easthamption, Massachusetts.
Painting measures 20 by 24 inches. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Spring Shipwreck, a Poem

By Claudia Ricci

O what do we do with what will we do?
It is the evening of the last day.
My companion is now
standing at the cliff staring at me.  With me.
When you have known someone this long, it’s hard to distinguish the
“one from the other” condition.

I say, “Look out there, the ship is in a terribly narrow passage of dark rock and there looks to me
to be certain devastation ahead.”

And then I wipe my eyes and the dream ends, and I wake up beside my husband of nearly four decades. 
Mouth dry,
So gloomy I can barely open my eyes.
And yet I still see the cliff and the light on the ship in the distance,
Rocking between the rocks.
In my half-dream state, I whisper,
How could the ship not flounder on those rocks?
There was moonlight, yes, yes,
But there wasn’t enough of it to keep the boat afloat.

I sit up in bed.
He lies there asleep.
Outside the window, it is spring
but the winter has wandered back in
The ice clings to the heart and the hull and the sails.
A nor’easter is up and the boat is glazed, sheathed in ice now
completely socked in by the bad weather.

Ah the boat, our old old weathered ark,
It rocks in dark dark water.
And now, I get up out of bed,
And I tiptoe.
I go below, and lock myself in my cabin.
The worst thing: there is no fresh air to breathe.
There is no fresh air to cry with.
There is nothing but the rocking
And the certainty that the ship is going to crash.
And now, I come to this:
What happens happens happens.
It only matters what description we give to all of it.
We rise we fall we crash we sail.
We look for reasons.

Was that lightning that struck the ship?
Was that a fire on board that could have been extinguished?
Or was the fire extinguished so long ago we forgot where we put the matches?
Or maybe this: the captain broke the rules and brought another woman aboard.
And after a night of sex and pleasure, he lay there smoking a cigar until he felt himself sinking into
            peaceful sleep.
Nothing could keep the boat safe.

Ah, but those are just the stories we might tell each other
my friend and me, standing at the cliff,
Staring out to sea.
If we cared enough to tell them.
This is our toil and our work: we keep inventing stories for why something
crashes and burns or sinks forever into the sea.
A better teaching might be this:
We might rather say the simple prayer, It is what it Is,
It is God’s will.
And please, forgive us this day, for what we need to do to keep our boats sailing.
Show us the real objective is to learn
to be content with our
Lots.  Our love.
As we course our way through the endless rough waters.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Supreme Court's Ruling This Week Helps the Rich Buy More Political Power!!

By Richard Kirsch

The Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this week (the McCutcheon decision) makes it easier for the rich to buy political power. The court ruling highlights the big question raised by Thomas Piketty’s new instant economic classic, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. 
What chance is there for our democracy to stop the relentless accumulation of wealth by the richest few?

The core lesson of Piketty’s book, based on extensive analysis of data, is that, as Eduard Porter summarized in the Times, “the economic forces concentrating more and more wealth in the hands of the fortunate few are almost sure to prevail for a very long time.” Piketty says that as the return to capital exceeds economic growth, an ever larger share of national income goes to the owners of capital, the managers of capital and to their heirs.

Economics can’t reverse this, Piketty warns. Only “political action can make this go in the other direction,” he told Porter. The political action he recommends is global taxation of wealth and highly progressive income taxes. As James Galbraith points out in a review of Piketty’s book in Dissent, labor policies like raising the minimum wage and empowering labor unions would also work to share increases in national income more fairly and reduce income inequality, as would robust inheritance taxes.
Policy solutions are easy to come up with. The enormous challenge is that the more wealth is concentrated, the harder it becomes to enact those policies.
That’s not how it is supposed to work in a democracy. In theory, if the great majority of people are doing worse, while a few are doing much better, the majority should be able to change the policy at the voting booth. As just about anyone in America will tell you – from the Tea Partiers who decry crony capitalism to the Occupiers who rail against the 1% (I’m with them) – that’s not happening.
In the last few years, several academic studies by Larry Bartels and others have documented that what the rich believe prevails in politics and what the rest of us think has relatively little impact. The most recent study, released last month, was summarized in Forbes this way:
Those who have assets worth $40 million or more, hold undue sway over the positions politicians take on issues ranging from health care to global warming to defense spending. The wealthiest Americans, contends the paper, are more conservative than the public as a whole on many issues, and U.S. public policy reflects that.
That academics are finding what everyone outside of the five-member conservative majority in the Supreme Court believes – money buys influence, not just access – is gratifying, but hardly surprising. Of course, the political clout of the wealthy is based on more than just campaign cash. It’s control of major media and of much of academia. It’s control of people’s lives, so that corporations can threaten to cut jobs due to pro-labor policies and those threats are too scary for many people to risk challenging. It’s the prevalence and convergence of the conservative narrative, creating the “false consciousness” that leads so many people to vote against their own economic self-interest.
If we look to American history for guidance on whether democracy can rally, the lessons are not clear. For the first three centuries of European settlement of the United States, the opportunities offered by the expanding frontier relieved the pressure for economic justice. But as the frontier closed, the political pressure for policies to rein in corporate concentration and provide basic labor rights intensified. The result was the landmark legislation enacted in the Progressive era, from income and inheritance taxes to child labor laws to trust-busting. But that didn’t stop the huge rise in income inequality that led up to the stock market crash of 1929.
The New Deal provides more positive evidence that if it gets bad enough for enough people, the political system will respond dramatically: regulating finance, establishing labor standards and the right to organize, providing for social insurance, government job creation. Still, it took a world war for the political system to make the all-out investment in jobs and conditions for growth that built the great post World War II middle-class.
So where does that leave us in 2014, after 40 years of slowly stagnating wages and gradual but relentless shrinking of middle-class reality and hopes? My first boss, Ralph Nader, wrote that “pessimism has no survival value” and 39 years after he hired me I continue to follow that advice. I can see many positive signs that we can successfully organize the political will for progressive policies to create an America that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.
Most encouraging are new movements, by low-wage workers and by people demanding we stop killing the planet. I’m encouraged by the Millennial generation’s belief in community and embracing of diversity. And by the rising American electorate of women and communities of color who share with Millennials a belief in collective action to care for our loved ones and our communities. I’m lifted by the election of a growing number of economic progressives to local and state leadership and most recently to Congress. All of these groups share a deep concern about the state of our democracy, reminding us as well that with a switch of just one vote, the Supreme Court can reverse the disastrous Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, as well as the damage done by striking down key parts of the Voting Rights Act.
Can the powerful forces Piketty describes by turned back by a resurgent democracy? Two thousand years ago, Plutarch observed, “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” The stakes in the 21st Century are still that great. Don’t mourn: organize.
Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform. This post first appeared in Roosevelt's blog, NextNewDeal.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

An Early Early Admission to MIT!!

It seems like kids are born smarter and smarter these day. Take my grandson, Ronen, for example :)

From the looks of things, he is going to be a happy camper at college, following his dad to be a chemistry major. :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Bear Sighting!!

So I was alone with our new puppy Poco
last night because my husband was out of town. Wouldn't you know she had to go outside every two hours!

About 4:30  when I took her out, I was totally freaked -- I heard this growling sound coming from the side yard where the birdfeeders are.

I grabbed Poco and ran into the house and when I looked outside I swear I saw a snout and two eyes in the porch light.

Sigh, lucky we have our darling little Poco safe and sound! We've had bear sightings before but none of them were this close a call!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Taking the Open Mic by Storm

By Camincha

THE BLUE MONKEY on Hayes Street in San Francisco,
you couldn’t miss this great open mic cafe!

There it was. One whole wall depicted vividly a jungle scene, the green, the dew on the leaves, the sun pushing light through the plants. There in the middle of the room was an enormous Blue Monkey clinging to the trunk of a tree. His face turned to contemplate the busy goings on in the café.  His eyes opened wide, surprised.

The place had changed hands. Alba had questions. Nobody knew the answers. Why it had been sold was a mystery.  But THE BLUE MONKEY kept attracting people. Bob became a frequent reader. He came at first with two, three people. Women. Late twenties, early thirties. Attractive, excellent full figures, curvy in just the right places. 

The first time Alba saw Bob and his friends, they had signed on the open mic list under his name. When he was called, one of the women got up and danced a most lovely, voluptuous number. Scantily dressed, she floated around the café aided by two pieces of gauzy cloth. Her performance was received with exuberant enthusiasm. The temperature in the café reached new levels.

In the following weeks, different people took the lead on the open mic, managing the readings. One night a woman was at the podium,
assertive, organized. Her name was Jeannie and from that moment on THE BLUE MONKEY took off in a meteoric run. It was lots of fun to be there. 

People read joyfully, giving it their best. Jeannie was totally dedicated, paid out of her own pocket to make printed flyers and postcards. She also made sure the readings were posted in all Bay Area newspapers. She also invited literary figures to come listen which resulted in their work being published. Like Alba, who presented a poem.

One night Jeannie materialized by Alba’s side and said, "I want to feature you, to read with Alain Mc Kodak.  Alain is established as poet and writer, he's well known. He wants you because you are new at this." This amused Alba, who knew that Alain wanted someone who wouldn't be better than he was.

She said yes to Jeannie. On her way home Alba laughed out loud. She thought, hmmmm, she thinks I’m not good enough on

Open Mic. 

Well, I know am good. I’ll be great. What’s important is that I’m featured at the HOTTEST venue in San Francisco!

The Café was standing room only. Alba had worked the phone inviting everyone she knew. She was so grateful they responded. The reading was just great!  

All my love. Thank you everyone! My roses are keeping me company 'till I do open mic again!  Meanwhile I practice...

Camincha is the pen name for a prolific California writer. This piece is an excerpt from her novel, "The ‘90s, Golden Era of Open Mics." Stay tuned for more excerpts!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

I've heard about the THIRD EYE before but now......

This morning
eye started seeing
eyes, I saw
eyes from the side, left
dissolving into
eyes from the right.

Eye saw
some from the front
head on straight
but always shape-shifting.
I would turn my attention to the image
and voila, it would disappear!
And a new eye would
appear in its place,
as if the eyes were melting
pooling into water.

I have heard about
the third eye
and its connection
mystical and esoteric concept referring to a speculative invisible eye which provides perception beyond ordinary sight.[1] The third eye refers to the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness

these eyes.
I feel deeply grateful that
every time I close my I's
Eye can conjure another

Friday, February 21, 2014


Pardon me for wanting to show you photos of my brand new grandson, Ronen. But the fact is, he is the most awesome child in the world. Every grandma knows that to be true about her grandchildren. :)

Only a week old, he has already wrapped each one of us in love. He is a miracle for sure.

His mom, my daughter Jocelyn, is extraordinary, caring for him, loving him, being the best mother in the world. My son-in-law, Evan, is an unbelievably supportive husband and father. What a blessing  it is to watch the two of them bonding with their newborn son.

Here is Ronen coming home from the hospital:

 Here is Ronen holding on to his daddy's chin:

Here is Ronen yawning with his Mom

By the way, Ronen is a Hebrew name which means "Song of Joy." That is surely an apt name for this tiny tune of a boy who is bringing everyone so much happiness just by being alive!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

More Words To Fathom

By Sharon Flitterman-King

Words grow out of words
I fathom that—
  from the Indo-European root
  word pet: To spread

As in “length of two arms
stretched out.”
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes
But wait, there’s more:
the Latin patere to be open
  comes from pet
  As in patent and clear
    and open
to understanding

Or the Latin pandere
  to spread out, in
  expand, the possibilities
of fathom
the word

Related to the beautiful
  petal, from the Greek
  petalon, from pet

    a leaf, whose loveliness
    often I cannot

Then there’s paella and pan
  also from pet, in the
  Greek patane, or
  “thing spread out”

So let’s eat and drink
  to words—
  as we fathom them

Nothing of him that does fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich
  and strange

the fathomless tempest
of words.

--For Claudia

Sharon Flitterman-King, PhD, lives with her husband in Hillsdale, New York. She is the author of "A Secret Star," among other works.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Fathoming the Moment

It started as a single word
I heard it
ringing inside my head
during this morning's

For some odd reason
I will never quite ==fathom==
that very word
FATHOM popped
up front and center
in my mind
I was so pulled by it that
I stopped meditation
went into the
study to consult
the Oxford
it said the
was derived
from Old English

"two arms
and then

I went back
to meditating
and drinking my warm
cup of chai,
but I wasn't
able to stop thinking
about fathom,
and then into my head
came Eckart Tolle's book
I read that book
I keep it beside my
bed I am never very
far away
because what Tolle
saying that I love
is that
we can only come into
when we live
but how do we fathom
this and this
and this and this
====moment ====
moments always
slippery and sliding

I inhaled and
and went back
to meditating
I kept tr=====y====ing
to embrace the NOW
Tolle writes:
"Focus attention on
the feeling inside you,
but don't think about
it just FEEL IT
"The mind, to ensure that it
remains in control,
seeks continuously to cover
up the PRESENT ==== MOMENT
with past and future,"
The hear
ultimately A UNION
yes, that is GOD but
Tolle says don't use
that Word because
"the word God
has become empty of meaning
through thousands of years of

Now I sit here hours
later so many thousand
present moments
have gone flittering away
with me not
BEING in them.

I try to fathom
not thinking
and I cannot
I am lost
going out
of my mind.

But I am still
sitting here
to stop explaining
to stop writing
to you
and just start
it is snowing
softly outside the window
every flake falling
moment after moment
at an angle
The birds
outside the kitchen keep
pecking at
the suet they come swooping in and
flying and landing
on the feeders
with the black
and now for God's
sake I need to
====JUST STOP===
this poem has gone
on long enough
write another