One Pebble, Then An Avalanche

The day after was perfect day: palmettos rustling in the light breeze, ducks chattering on the ‘lake’, rippling patterns on the stucko wall. He would have gone down to feed them.

 My brother stumbles into the kitchen, rumpled, stubbly, and rubbing his eyes.



He grunts. I never see him like this.

We sip our wake-up drug for a while. Could be a scene from any south Florida morning. Except:

“We should call people.”

I nod. Hand him the phone.

He stares at it for a while.

“I’ve forgotten my own phone number.”

He looks up at me, and the incredulity, plus the grief on his face make him look like an old man and a little boy, all at once.

I start to recite his number for him and realize I don’t remember it either. I shake my head, dumbfounded. We’re not quite ready to laugh.


After Dad’s funeral, there was the business of getting life back to some semblance of normal. For weeks life had been waves of surreal, from the miserable conflict with second wife Mary, to moving into hospice, and finally his mystical passing. We then faced the challenge of organizing his wake in another state. I felt tumbled like a stone, no more sharp edges, and not knowing which way was up.

After all was said and done, I headed home to DC. I had something great to look forward to: the opening of a gallery show on Capitol Hill. I was never so proud of my work – it looked marvelous, drew lots of praise, and I sold painting. It couldn’t have been a better moment to celebrate with my fellow artists, neighbors and art fans. Time to launch a new season, a new Millennium, and the strange new life without my father.

The day after that opening was another perfect day, this time, the September-in-Washingtonian kind. Who doesn’t love the blessed return of moderate temperature and low humidity, the arching bowl of blue sky without a cloud, with the trees still green and full? It made me want to reach up, stand tall and hope.

 I met a friend by the river for some optimistic early-morning exercise. We were both on course for a great new season of success, rebuilding momentum after summer’s travels. I went off on my bike while she walked.

West Potomac Park has waterfront sidewalks, some of which flood at high tide. Did you know that goose shit and algae make a slippery surface? Right across the river from the Pentagon, my wheels went out from under me. Sliding sideways I skidded along the slimy concrete. Somehow I made it back to the car, gashed, bleeding and smeared with a vile substance.

My friend took me home and helped me get cleaned up, tended my wounds. And thus I was not at work, but home when my cousin called, about 9:40am, nearly shouting:

marking 9/11: photographer peter neumann’s architectural abstracts of new york

“Are you OK?!”

He lives in Michigan.

I puzzled at the phone, smiling.

“Yeah, I’m fine. But how did you know I fell off my bike?”

A pause, then: “Bike, what? TURN ON THE TV!”

I comply, his voice was so commanding. And I stared in disbelief. I thought it was a bomb.


My father died as predicted, as comfortably as possible with loved ones near. It had nothing to do with horrific terrorist havoc.

But losing a parent feels like the rug is pulled out from under you. The world goes wobbly, what seemed solid thins and becomes crumbly, transparent. Brick buildings that looked solid sag as if made of sand, just waiting for a gust to blow them down.

The walls came tumbling down. It’s a different world now.

Always Weaving a New Story

Yesterday I did a cool one-day workshop called Storyweaving, which is a unique method of working our creative subconscious to reveal and retell the stories we live by.  The workshop leader is Carol Burbank, my dear friend, and I’ve had the privelege of watching her grow as a teacher and healer (and I helped her create the web site. **iz proud of her & me**). Check out her site for upcoming workshops, classes, talks and more.

We gathered in the morning and got started with some meditation. It was a nice group of four, all of us women of a certain age who are moving bravely into life changes.We worked with group story-telling and then made ‘self portraits’ to discover images, themes, tools to help us with our current transformations.

I took this workshop before, back in December


At that time my art piece revealed a protective angel-self who held my hurt and depressed self. You can see her, held in the angels’s heart, at left, curled into a tight dark ball.

At the time, I judged the self portrait as ‘art’ and was embarrassed by the sugary fairy angel. But in time I became very grateful for her energy watching over me. It was a tough year last year, and there was much healing to do in the dark of winter.

This time I made two images.


In the first,  I wanted to get the literal idea of the body as temple (in Hawaiian: hei’au) out onto the page.

I was obviously working with feeling large and heavy, going for a sense of sacred and ancient goddess. Hawaiian is one culture that honors the fat body as beautiful. I have a pretty hard time doing that, but in working on this I began to enjoy the lumpy lava body, her serenity, and all the lush gifts that were brought to her.






Once I got that idea out, it was easier to work more dreamlike way, less cerebral control. I chose colors and drew without looking for about half of the picture. This one reveals a flowing, evolving bright rosy energy.

There’s a sense of moving hands, red with life energy, and growing embrionic and vine-like growth. It’s luminous, expansive, moving. No more hiding now, it’s all about unfurl and grow.

BIG changes in three months!

Since we are always writing our story, it’s important for me to resist the old gloomy myths that hold me back from all the good I can do.