---Alice Abrams

Friday, December 29, 2006

Echoes of "...In the Air"

The past few days have been so heavy - so much news, most of it awful. I thought I'd throw in something for "giggles" sake. A good laugh is nourishment for the soul! I love ducks, and the fact that they're not in the least concerned to look ridiculous while going after a meal should give us all something to think about!!!

Echoes of a "President"

In Honor of a President: Gerald Ford died at age 93, leaving behind his wife, Betty, 88, and four children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I didn't know a lot about him but I do know that he stepped into his position in history at a very difficult time and did a very brave thing. He pardoned Richard Nixon. He realized that the country was out for Nixon's blood and coming on the heels of Viet Nam, what this country needed was healing, not more blood-letting.

Listening to the comments over the past couple of days, I've learned that he (unlike me) was not a klutz. He was a football star and turned down a football scholarship. He had a knee injury (do I relate to that) that caused him to miss his footing and appear clumsy. He also had a very good golf handicap. I can't speak for the people who happened to land in the path of errant golf balls!

He was faithful to his church (Episcopal) and loved his wife and family deeply. He wanted no pomp and circumstance in life and allowed for just a little in death. His wife acknowledged very publicly a substance dependency and through her brave admission, has provided help for many others.

A common man, brought to the highest office in the land by the shame of another, yet bringing to bear the satisfaction of living life, not in the limelight, but as one who could look himself in the mirror, knowing he had accomplished much.

The irony of the past few days: the funeral of a musical icon who was a junkie, wife-beater and totally immoral; a former president of the US; a dictator hanged. I wonder who will receive the most media coverage.

Echoes of "Justice"

It's very cold outside, with a clear sky
and the promise of frost in the morning.
I'm sipping very hot chai tea with a bit of
cream. That sweet little shih tzu of mine
is curled up next to me, all worn out after
a frenzied game of fetch with a ratty old

A couple of hours ago, Saddam Hussein was
dangling at the end of a rope, refusing the black hood and telling his executioners to "go to Hell."
A very befitting end to a coward responsible
for the murder of so many of his own people.
I shouldn't gloat, but I wonder what he felt as his eyes opened in eternity and he faced, not Allah, but Jehovah, with not a single virgin in sight. Our young men and women have paid a steep price to attain his death. I pray that the insurgents will be stopped at the gates as they feed off the smell of death and the opportunity to create more hatred.

God, please bless the USA. We need your blessings over this land...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Echoes of "Blessings"

Blessings - how often we miss them or take them for granted, overlooked in the "busyness" of the day. Walking along the sidewalk, too busy darting along our path to notice the clouds in the sky, the shadows falling alongside us, or the pattern of a fallen leaf.

Blessings - sometime they are literally handed to us: our children after they make their entrance into this world; the hand of our new spouse after vows have been exchanged; the key to our first home.

Blessings - some blessings are the gift of the heart: the day spent chatting with a dear loved one, or sharing a cup of coffee with your spouse, or an unexpected gift - a heart gift that can be shared with another loved one.

As the year draws to a close, I look to the heavens and realize that I have been blessed abundantly, over and over again. Sometimes I realized the blessing and held it in my heart and other times I was negligent and missed it. I want to journey into the new year with eyes wide open and earnestly look for blessings and be thankful.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Echoes of "Merry Christmas"

Merry Christmas to all!

This photo was taken last Christmas and was a happier moment. Christmas eve has been very quiet but we haven't let the little black clouds hover too much.

Lynne and I had a "chat-a-thon" - I need her to know that it was the highlight of my day and cemented the importance of family and being connected to someone to knows me, really knows me and that I feel so safe with. She was my gift! Thanks....I love you dearly and I have faith that her Christmas will bless her.

I had a phone call from my granddaughter this evening and she casually mentioned her "husband." I didn't even know she was married. When did the dis-information highway get so off-track??? She's been married for two months and I just found out...ain't life grand. I sometime feel as if it's a conspiracy to really make me feel stupid!!! Anyway, she sounded happy.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Echoes of a "Gratitude Journal"

Several posts ago I vowed to return to the practice of using my "Gratitude Journal" to pull myself out of negativity-land. That lasted all of about 2-3 days. The sadness of the season descended and I really forgot to be grateful for anything. I started looking at all of the images I have stored and was trying to choose which one to use for my next posting. The beauty of creation overwhelmed me. I decided to take a quick moment and find three things to be grateful for:

FAITH: The sun always rises - a promise to us. The world revolves and every morning we know one thing, the sun will be coming up in the east. At certain times of the year it may be hidden by inclement weather, but we know, by faith, that it is there. That is faith - we trust in what we cannot see.

HOPE: Emily Dickinson called it the "thing with feathers that perches in the soul..." People that survived the holocaust did so by keeping hope in their souls. Read Elie Wiesel's book, "Night," sometime. Perhaps the most famous usage of the word "hope" is used in "The Divine Comedy," as Dante enters the Gate of Hell: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." When hope is gone, the human soul perishes.

LOVE: "The greatest of these is love..." Can any one of us attest to any emotion more powerful than love? LOVE your neighbor as yourself. For this a man will lay down his life for a friend, a mother will surrender her life for her children, a saviour will become a man and die a miserable death to save mankind. And how many of us will reject this gift? LOVE. Agape. Amen.

For these three things, I am truly grateful.

Echoes of "Giving"

I have been so despondent about the season and my lack of Christmas cheer. I was thinking about my son and his girlfriend. They're staying in a garage at her dad's house, which is not insulated and using electric blankets for warmth. She feels her mom's departed spirit in the house and doesn't do well with her father, hence the garage.
Yes, folks, it's a long story. My son collects broken people like I collect antique glassware. He loves her dearly although she is unmedicated and needs to be!
So we decided that we have to have them with us, at least at Christmas. I can't stand the thought of them all by themselves, no money, no cheer or warmth. Yes, some of it's self-induced but as long as they're sober, we can lend a hand. The true lesson of Christmas is in the giving of yourself. We talked about helping out at the homeless shelter but my back won't allow me to stand for more than fifteen minutes without hollering, and it dawned on me. Charity does begin at home, after all. We can reach out to our own hurting flesh and blood and offer ourselves.

Echoes of "Promises"


Echoes of "Lost in the Snow"

For the past ten days, I've been following the story of the three men lost while climbing Mt. Hood in Oregon. Yesterday, the rescuers found the body of one of the men in a snow cave - the other two are still missing. With all of the activity and noise of the helicopters, I'm afraid they're dead as well or they would've shown themselves by now. The brother of the deceased climber said that he was happiest on the mountain because he felt closer to God and now, he was lifted off the mountain into eternity.

Before this drama played out, a young family took a wrong turn driving home from Oregon to San Francisco, got caught in a horrific snow storm. James Kim set out for help, leaving his wife and two small daughters in the car. After nine days, they were found alive and well but Mr. Kim developed hypothermia and perished before help arrived.

None of these men knew when they left their loved ones for the final time that they would lose their way in blinding snow and fierce storms. Now there are four broken families and children who will grow up without the touch of a father's hand or guidance. There will be empty chairs and empty broken hearts this Christmas. My prayers go out to all of these whose Christmas celebration has been extinguished this year.

My own sorrow for my hurt and loss diminishes when placed in the proper perspective. Time. I just hope I have enough time to work things through. You never know when your life may be required of you. Live each moment as if it were your last.

"A Great Quote"

"Dogs are children that are never quite able to grow up, no matter how smart they are. And so they always make us feel important and needed. We are. We always have our place with them. And we know what that place is, in contrast to our relationship with many of the members of our own species that we encounter in life." ---Roger A. Caras

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Echoes of a "Mother's Heart"

My mother's heart aches tonight. My family is fragmented and my heart hurts. I am "estranged" from my brother and my son is "estranged" from his sister. My son called me this afternoon. I was so happy to hear from him, yet a call or visit from him is usually a very stressful ordeal. He is never happy with his lot in life, he sees himself as a victim in the never-ending chapters of his life's story.

He is one of the most giving people I know, but if he feels he has been wronged, he will not let it go. He feels his sister has betrayed him and he cannot keep from taking her to task over and over again to me when he calls. I've let him know that I cannot, will not take sides and that I love them both deeply.

His sister, on the other hand, feels he has let her down and is deeply hurt by his behavior. And here I am, at odds with my brother. What an example I am!!! And all I want is for this family to be healed...

My brother and I had our "difficulty" in August, 2004. Doug passed away in April, 2005. When I called my brother to let him know that Doug was in the hospital and was critical, I hadn't spoken to him since that August, but he was instantly my "little brother" again. He was concerned about all of us and was here for the funeral and was most comforting to me. But afterwards, it has been up to me to do the e-mailing. I have to find out his news by reading his blog. I've apologized but I just can't seem to make it right.

My son feels that Doug's death was the worst thing, besides his dad's death, that has ever happened to him. He feels as though shop personnel took advantage of his sister after Doug's death and that his sister doesn't see it and has taken sides with them over him. They are both nurturing a deep pain, all resulting from things that occured after Doug's death. It grieves me to think how Doug would feel if he could know what has happened to all of us since '04. He was in rehab that summer and in pain most of the time he had left on this earth.

I can only pray that God will touch this little family of mine and heal our hearts and give us all peace.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Echoes of a "Mother's Touch"

This picture reminds me of my mother. She always made Christmas special. She WAS Christmas. She did all the baking, candy making (including divinity!), the festive dinner, and her special pies - pecan and mincemeat. I know I should've stepped up to the plate and taken over her duties after she died. At first, we did pretty good. Mick, my daughters and I toughed it out and did all right. My brother resisted bringing in the formal dining table, so that bit the dust. Then the girls had responsibilites with their other families, Wally and my work schedules were unpredictible (sometimes having to drive home the same day), so Christmas has fallen between the cracks. We were hanging on by a thread with the kids here until Doug died. The world stopped when he left us.

Maybe I can have Wally find us some tamales and I'll make enchiladas (one turkey a year is plenty) and maybe Marie Calendar can furnish a pie or two. Maybe I can find some joy somewhere if I look inside deep enough...

Echoes of "Old Man Winter"

Winter won't be here officially for another week but it's definitely on the way. Monday, we broke a record for the day - it was 81.
I'm having a hard enough time trying to find some semblance of a Christmas spirit and it's impossible when it's that warm.

Got my wish. It's supposed to rain tomorrow and frost again Saturday with a high of 45 on Monday. That's a little more like it.

I see photos like this and wonder where the road leads...In my imagination, I pretend it leads to a beautiful valley, dusted with crisp, beautiful snow, with a winding stream running through the valley. Maybe a deer or two ambling down to the stream to drink. Where does the road take you?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Echoes of "Christmas' Past"

When did the joy of Christmas leave my heart? Christmas always meant tons of food, family and a lot of joy. Now, it is a dead spot in my soul. No spark, just an ember. When did it all die?
I haven't left the house in three weeks and I've only seen the neighbor's lights. I see the advertisements on TV and all of the catalogs and banners on the web. That's no way to fan the flames. All of the commercialization has made me heartsick anyway. The news just portrays one more rabbi or atheist who's gotten their panties in a wad over the nativity scene in an airport or some such is CHRISTMAS, after all!!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Echoes of a "Small World"

In spite of our "connectedness" via the electronic world, e-mail, computers, cellphones, etc., one man's death shows just how small the world really is.

My daughter was in London a few weeks ago. Nothing amazing about that - a lot of people visit London. What makes this trip unsual is that the former spy, Alexander Litvinenko, stayed on the eighth floor of the same hotel in which my daughter and her friend stayed. They were on the sixth floor. And of course, in the elevators (lifts), lounge, pub, etc. It seems as though every day you read of yet another victim of polonium poisoning. Her friend has visited her doctor and they are tracking dates and times. My daughter also met a gentleman who works for Scotland yard and he is keeping her abreast via e-mail.

The possibility of my daughter and her friend being inflicted with this is extremely small but it's unnerving, just the same.

A small world? And getting smaller all the time...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Echoes of a "Soulmate..."

To My Soulmate - When all else fails, it's you and me - whoever needs sheltering, we've got each other covered! Love you~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Echoes of Thoughts...

I took this shot in the back yard before the first frost, as the liquid amber was starting to turn color but the poor bougainvilla thought it was still summer, along with the feathery (Darn it! Can't think of the name!!! It grows all over southern CA and it doesn't do well here because of the colder has clumps of beautiful purple flowers in the spring - all I can think of is Mimosa, and that's not the one. The aging process, through which our brain cells slough off all over the carpet, sucks.). Anyway, as I was saying....
(Oh, by the way - It's a Jacaranda!!! and this is a week later...)

I've been all over the blogs, reading some wonderful, profoundly thoughtful people's take on different things. I will try to remember (good luck with that!) to add a couple every so often.

One in particular, deals with a subject, that while reading, dropped a bomb on me. It deals with the difference between guilt and shame. It's something I had never thought much about and had always used them as synonyms. But not so. I thought I had been dealing particularly with guilt, recognizing that, with my brand of Christianity, guilt was something that had been dealt with for me by Christ's death on the cross. Holding on to guilt was something my depression has been feeding upon and multiplying like little amoebas (sp?).

I'm including the link here because Dr. Bob deals with this subject in a wonderfully clear manner and I'm mucking it up. But shame is something I realize has lived in me since I was a child like a zygote that never fully formed but took up home in my cells.

Okay, something to state from the outset: I do NOT blame my mom for my raising! She was born in 1917 and I was a hell-child in the mid-1960's. Can anybody realize what a cultural shift that was? I remember catching holy hell because some pimply teenaged boy wrote in my year book what a "Bitchen Babe" I was. You would've thought he'd written about the great sex we'd had! Yikes! I didn't understand then, but I do now. My mother's framework with me was to "shame" me into proper behavior. She never gave me direct instructions about certain behaviors but expected me to perform them inspite of not knowing what they were.

A remembrance: I walked to Knott's with the pastor's son. We were both 15 and had permission to do so. I remember walking into the store holding hands with "Buddy," and my mother looking at me as though I had walked in stark naked! The look - my brother and I joke about the look, but the look could kill. I got the dreaded look. I didn't exactly know what I'd done wrong but I figured it had something to do with the holding of hands...She barely said "hello," to either one of us and it was excrutiatingly painful.

There are dozens of other remembrances of this sort but I remember the feeling of shame like a red hot poker in the gut. No, I don't blame her. As I look back now as an adult, I realize she was just passing along the same method of raising I assume she received. My grandmother was a school teacher who probably perfected the look!
to be con't.