With Family in Lenox

We are spending a week on a lovely lake in Lenox, MA — a lucky custom of ours for the past several years. We’re renting a modest, cozy cottage facing beautiful Laurel Lake, and for the last few days we’ve been fortunate to have Annie, Gabe, and Louie staying with us. It has been a lazy but whirlwindy time of swimming, kayaking, watching hummingbirds, sharing stories, eating, and just eagerly and understandingly being with each other.

Louis Phipps, a very serious reader …
… and belly-floppier
Annie and Louie on an adventure
Gabe, taking a break
good friends cooling off
at Tanglewood for Wagner
my favorite paddler, in meditation

Monday morning, July 29 … a quiet, easy paddle on the lake. No other persons present – just a few birds whistling and diving above us, and some small lake creatures creating soft ripples on the surface every so often.

Looking east on Laurel Lake, 8:00 a.m.
a happy paddler

A Quiet Morning in the Quiet Corner

We spent an easy-going, quiet morning at Jamie’s, staying with Ava while Jamie was doing some teaching. I couldn’t believe how serene it was — the almost-silence in the deep forest , with just an occasional soft song of a bird, often sounding high-up and far off. Cia went off with her bike to explore a new trail, and I stayed in the peacefulness of the house and grounds. I read and wrote a little, but mostly just let the quiet thoughts come quietly by.

                                                                       the view from Jamie’s desk

Patch and Hogan, protecting their buddy Hammy in his blue chair

beautiful birdsongs while sitting outside at Jamie’s

A Tour, a Beach, a Poem

Click here to hear me reading this journal entry.

We have had great fun, the past two weeks. watching the famous bike race, the Tour de France. We tape it in the morning – the entire stage, usually 5+hours – and then watch selected parts in the afternoon, skipping the commercials. I have been a fan of the Tour for probably 30 years, and now Cia has jumped on the Tour bus in a serious way. She studies the action with care and listens attentively to the announcers and their complex discussions of strategies. Truthfully, I get a little lost as I watch, not able usually to follow the intense discussions of the teams’ master plans, but I love seeing the vast scenes in which the race takes place, and following the colorful riders as they roll along with their always amazing fierceness.

The Tour de France!

We had a wonderful walk on Napatree this morning – a brisk three miles out to the point and back. The sky was overcast, and a cool, stimulating wind was blowing, so the walk was definitely a refreshing one.

The Princess of Napatree on her throne

My Poem for Today:


Most of our neighbors can’t see us, 

no more than stars can see the silent dust in our streets, 

or slivers of distant sky can see the skin of our arms. 

Our neighbors are millions of miles away in gracious galaxies,

and also right next to us, 

in the shy, accommodating air that loves to come to our lungs, 

and in the sunlight that always looks for us. 

There is nothing that isn’t our neighbor, 

not the unselfish stars that smile at the rims of the universe,

not the flames that unfold at the center of our earth, 

our kind home which forever cares for us like a firm and affectionate friend.

Coolness, Curtains, Hummers, Rain

July 23, 8:00 am … We are blessed this morning with cool, quiet winds across the yard and through the open windows, a refreshing shift from the stale hot air of the last few days. I’m sitting in our bedroom (also my ‘office’), looking out the wide windows to rhododendron leaves and pine trees moving easily in the wind. A blessing, for sure, and a super way to start this day.

Yesterday, Cia was gone for a few hours (dentist, and then sitting at the dealership so our car could be serviced), so I worked by my lonesome at home – some writing, some reading on my phone set up on my new extension stick, some shoveling of dirt and reshaping of rose bush branches in my mom’s memorial garden, and – hopefully – some mindful moments now and then.

I have been thoroughly enjoying my reading on the iPhone extension stick. I’m able to sit up much straighter than usual, and I’m re-learning how to access many of my beloved spiritual works on the phone. Once again, I’m reminded how very easy it is to highlight and take notes on e-books, in addition to being easily able to raise the font to fit my eyes.

my handy iPhone extension stick — totally flexible!

As I’m writing, I’m noticing, now and then, Cia’s silky, see-through curtains swaying in this lovable cool breeze. Welcome, Mr. Coolness!

silky curtain, cool winds

Here is a hummingbird at Cia’s feeder outside the sunroom …

Listen to the sound of today’s soaking rain in this 20 sec. audio …


We’ve been through some damp, dangerously hot days lately – in the high 80s and 90s, and not many cooling winds. We’ve continued working outside in the cool morning shade (mostly shoveling and raking dirt to finish out the driveway project) and this morning we took a tough, sweaty walk on the hills (mostly shady) of Mystic, but the rest of the day we spend in the 78 degree AC coolness inside our comfy home.

Here’s the front yard chalkboard poem for today:

And here are some of CIA’s lovely day lilies, newly bloomed this morning —

And finally, a photo taken around 5:30 this morning, through a window in the sunroom as we sat in silent meditation–

Roadside chalkboard poetry

For the last two weeks, I have written a brief poem on a chalkboard stand and set it in our front yard, close to the street, so walkers, riders, and drivers can, if they wish, stop and maybe gain some quiet inspiration. The poems are always very short and hopefully somewhat uplifting – nothing negative, and no politics, for sure.

I have slowly begun to thoroughly enjoy the process, including selecting the poetry lines to write each day, and also carefully choosing the colors and styles of the chalk writing. I purchased several packages of special outdoor waterproof chalk, and it’s been great fun to create a different appearance for each chalkboard poem. In a way, it feels like I’m actually publishing my poetry each day. Few genuine publishers have chosen my poems for publication, but this chalkboard poetry, in an odd and comforting way, is a different, and maybe more personal, kind of publishing. Each day I carefully self-publish a poem for my neighbors (anyone in the whole world) to personally read and enjoy, and each day – surprisingly to me – I have seen at least a few people stop and read the poem — and some have even taken photos of it!

I am grateful to Cia for being totally supportive of this project. In fact, I was ready to abandon it after just a few days, but she encouraged me, and almost  insisted that I continue. And I am glad I did.

Below are some of the early chalkboard poems. More to come, for sure!

Shared with gratitude … Ham