The new cathedral


I frequently walk pass the New Cathedral in front of Parque Calderon on Benigno Malo. Though today as I passed by I looked at the two women who sit the entire day in front of the Cathedral selling candles of all sizes, on a makeshift table that also holds a large selection of rosary beads, and prayer books. I backtracked, bought two tall white candles. then went up the few steps leading to the Cathedral.

Cuenca was especially noisy today; it felt good to be inside. I stood in the back for a few minutes. People were kneeling and praying, or walking around and admiring. It had been years since I lit a candle in a church. However, I know someone in dire need of prayers, and I believe in miracles. There were quite a few statues along the two sides of the Cathedral, and in front of every statue stood an old-looking tin table holding candles in various sizes and stages of burning. I walked around looking for a statue of Jesus. Found! – it was the last statue on my walk; I lit the two candles and placed them carefully so they wouldn’t fall. Then I prayed for a healing.

After that I walked around. And as I walked I heard the lovely voice of a woman singing loud and clear. I couldn’t detect the direction it was coming from, but I agreed with myself that entering this beautiful Cathedral today was a smart move on my part.

As I was about to leave, I saw a confessional — the one in the photo above. It looked weary and the paths leading to the doors — one for the priests, the other for lay people — were well-worn. I stood there thinking of all the people who entered that confessional, burdened with feelings of having sinned and heavy with guilt. And I thought of the priests who listened, and I wondered how they responded.

I think it’s time to step out into the lovely sunny day.

“everything indeed has a spirit” – ouspensky

IMG_1920.JPGSometimes as I walk along the river and pass a cluster of homes like these, and happen to look up, I think about the interesting stories they could tell . . . if they could tell.

And sometimes I think about the following:

Colin Wilson wrote about Ouspensky in one of his books . . . Gurdjieff had taught Ouspensky about self-remembering. It’s about being aware of yourself and at the same time being aware of what you’re looking at. Ouspensky would walk around St. Petersburg in Russia late at night, and practice self-remembering by noting buildings, small objects, etc. The more he practiced the more he felt that these things were aware of him. After awhile he could sense their history. He said, “they were living beings, full of thoughts, feelings, moods and memories.” That’s when he “learned that everything indeed has a spirit. . . .”

a brief encounter with grace


Yesterday as I was walking along Calle Larga, a busy street in Cuenca, looking for Bananas Cafe, I saw a lovely twenty-something woman with a hula hoop. She was dressed in clothes made of long, soft flowing fabric. She, tall and delicate-looking, was one with her hula hoop. Ever so gracefully she was performing in the middle of the street seemingly without a care in the world. It was mid-afternoon, and, at that particular time, everything around her briefly stopped. Then the light changed and we all woke from what seemed a dream.

I have a hula hoop. I’m practicing. She’s my inspiration.

Are you enjoying the day?

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“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare;
it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear;
After that, fear has no power,
And the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes.
You are free. – Jim Morrison

Stuart Wilde


There are those times when you’re going along your merry ole way, and something stops you in your tracks, and you forget what you were thinking or doing a second ago. That’s what happened to me when I read of Stuart Wilde’s passing. I remember many years ago when I first read his book, WHISPERING WINDS OF CHANGE, and was completely taken in by his wisdom, great sense of humor, openness, and teachings. How I wish I had managed to get to one of his workshops, but I’m grateful for his emails, newsletters in physical form (before personal computers), website, for all the insights from his wonderful books – for how to think differently about life and beyond.

I’ve read many times that’s there’s a fine veil between life and death, and so I’ve no doubt that Stuart knows about the many loving messages that are being sent his way. With a touch of sadness and lots of gratitude I want to add my name to the millions of names wanting to say: Stuart, thank you, thank you, thank you.

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“Life was never meant to be a struggle, just a gentle progression from one point to another.” – Stuart Wilde

Emi and her camera

Daughter Emi’s photos tell a story. She has an eye that captures the essence of a person and place. Most times Emi has her camera with her, and should that not be the case, the phone’s camera and Emi’s eye will more than suffice, because, you see, love and passion take extraordinary pictures. It’s been this way since she was very young. The following are from my iPad and phone, and I wish I had some of her other photos, but, alas, I don’t.

When the above photo was taken by Emi at Ocean Grove, NJ it was an unusually chilly June day, still, if I look at it long enough I feel my feet sinking into the sand as I wonder what’s across that vast ocean, then I see people are jumping into the waves, and lots of people are sitting on the sand perhaps dreaming, others are pointing to designs made by the clouds, sunbathers are making sandcastles and children are laughing as a friend is turned into a sand mermaid, someone is kayaking, families are collecting seashells, couples are riding the waves hand-in-hand. Now people are leaving. Lucky me I stayed and watched magnificent dolphins playing. The sun is setting now and I’m saying goodbye to a gorgeous day. Ah, yes, such is the magic of a photo.

We were walking south in the 30s in Manhattan and It was a wonderfully light night, and Emi couldn’t resist capturing the sliver of the moon in its wondrous simplicity, lights were peeking through a few windows from very dark buildings. There’s a flicker of gold against the beautiful sky, to the right a tree is seen; it wants to be included also. This scene projects a sense of majesty at this moment on this night.

Emi is taking a last look at Philadelphia last Saturday as she leaves for Manhattan. The day was HOT! and it was HUMID! No matter, it looks serene. Nature is helping the people on the grass to relax – an abundance of trees, a soft blue sky, a bit of water will do that. The buildings are standing at attention, as if enjoying the scene, and appreciating the tranquility of a HOT and HUMID Saturday, compared to the busyness of a HOT AND HUMID Monday. All is well.

This is a casual scene in Rittenhouse Square Park in Philadelphia on Mother’s Day 2012. There’s a sign in the center where two people are sitting; it says: “free advice.” We laughed. It’s a neat idea, basically the sign tells nothing. So, someone sits facing the advisor, and then what? I like that. I wonder how much one pays for this “free advice.” the day is lovely, as is the art show surrounding the park. There’s a sweet expression on the face of the man in the orange shirt. Hey, why not, it’s Mother’s Day and he’s alive in this fascinating and mysterious world.

You might say there’s nothing special about the above photo. (lol, the above photo is gone! I’ll get it back. So, the first sentence of this paragraph is perfect.) And I’ll say, ahh, but . . . Emi took this picture a month ago as she was passing Paracelso because she knows it’s one of my favorite Manhattan shops. And that’s the reason I’d like to include it along with the other photos. Paracelso is not a run-of-the-mill shop; it’s very special to many people for quite a few reasons, as is the owner Luxor Tavella. Talk about staying power in the heart of SoHo where shops have come and gone through the years. Should you visit, don’t be put off by the face paint Luxor wears; she has her reasons. The following website will tell you a little about Luxor and Paracelso –
Thank you, Emi.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, what will you be doing?

Oops! Emi texted that the park photo is of Central Park, and that it was sent by mistake via phone as she was leaving Philly. Well, a park in a big city with people relaxing is still a park in a big city with people relaxing no matter where it was taken, right? – Although, I admit I should have known:-(

emailing and letter writing


I miss letter writing, a lot. I know there’s email, it’s simply not the same though. A month ago I was looking for an exquisite pen; it was a gift and I’d misplaced it. I began looking on one of the shelves (I’ve five very long shelves). After looking for a few seconds, a very familiar looking box got my attention. It was a box with a bunch of old letters, and the bunches were tied with the loveliest of ribbons, and they seemed to be, well, waiting, I thought. And I asked myself, waiting for what? There was no answer. So I reached for the box that for many years was carted from one place to another, now seemed the perfect time to take a look at what the past might reveal.

For the most part, reading the letters was wonderfully entertaining. Some of the people who wrote those letters have passed away, and the people who are alive are all leading very different lives. The letters ran the gamut of emotions, and, of course, they had an entirely different affect on me than when first read many years ago. I’ve changed, along with everybody and everything else. Again, what was revealed that evening was that everything is always changing. It wasn’t sad; it was just, wow, that all happened?

Although we are privy to many historical intimate letters, somehow when the letters of a long time ago are from people personally known, written in their own handwriting, and allowing the recapturing of memories, if only for fleeting moments, a different feeling arises. It’s a very nice feeling; I’d call it calming because somehow I sensed that everyone was fine – right here, right now; dead or alive; they’re all fine.

I’m sure many people would be excited to open their mailbox and see, along with junk mail and bills, a handwritten, personal letter on beautiful stationery. And, as for the one writing the letter, I remember it’s very satisfying, and tends to put things into perspective. Oh, yes.

I haven’t found my pen yet.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

common sense, is it true?

I received the following email from my friend, Lilian, in Malta. I’m thinking that what’s written about the “death” of common sense seems true, but, then again, those people who take no responsibility for what happens to them, well, that kind of negativity never fails to make the headlines. However, we can see common sense alive in numerous instances every day, and in different ways, and know that indeed it’s still alive though it tends to go unnoticed and doesn’t make the headlines.

The following makes for interesting and fun reading though:
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An Obituary printed in the London Times – Interesting and sadly rather true

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
– Why the early bird gets the worm;
– Life isn’t always fair;
– and Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I’m A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.



watkins books

On Friday I had a fractured tooth extracted (Dr. H. Fraiman’s skill in that matter is greatly appreciated), and while waiting for the swelling to disappear, and for the stitched space where the tooth once was to adjust, I read Watkins Issue 28 of Body Mind Spirit. In the pages of the magazine, writers who have books recently published give a synopsis of their thoughts and of the way they approached the writing of their book, or a bit more is given on their chosen subject. What I enjoy most about Watkins is the variety of writings on the very broad topic of mind body spirit. What better way to feel better, whether from a tooth extraction or a more serious situation, than to focus body mind spirit on wholeness.

Had I known years ago that a place called Watkins Books existed, I would have, lickety-split, found a way to get to London. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Since then, I’ve heard extraordinary stories of the atmosphere of the place, of the feeling customer’s got from just being there, and of the books and the customers themselves. In a feature titled, Mysteries and Secrets The Power of Modern Spirituality, the title of his book, William Bloom expertly describes the Watkins Books of decades ago. But that was then, and this is now, and now is wonderful, too, just in a very different way.

In the magazine, it’s written that: “John Watkins was a friend and disciple of H.P. Blavatsky and was himself personally involved in seeing the first edition of ‘The Secret Doctrine,’ her great metaphysical classic, through his printing press.” and that, “The idea of founding the bookshop is said to have occurred to Mr. Watkins in a conversation with Madame Blavatsky in which she lamented the fact that there was nowhere in London one could buy books on mysticism, occultism,and metaphysics.” And so, Watkins was founded in 1893.

The last page has been turned, and the day is lovely; let’s enjoy.


park slope, brooklyn

If I lived in Park Slope I might be a wee bit heavier. How can it not be that way when there are so many small high-quality speciality eating establishments. Walking along 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th Avenues, and meandering over to all the other neighborhoods bordering Park Slope, is a feast for the eyes. It’s a trip to eating paradise having only one problem: deciding on which direction to walk.

Once upon a time Manhattan had many butcher shops, and most went the way of many of its wonderful small bookshops; they disappeared. Now Park Slope has its very own butcher shop. The reason butcher shops are important is because butchers have knowledge, skill with the “right” knife, and tips for their customers that open up a whole new way of cooking. It’s rare to find that kind of personal attention in the meat departments of those very cold and very, very large supermarkets. So, here’s to: Fleisher’s of Kingston, NY and their Grass-Fed and Organic Meats at 192 Fifth Avenue (at Sackett Street), Park Slope, Brooklyn, ph: 718-398-mooo (6666).

Park Slope/Gowanus has Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a pie shop that tends to be busy. And should you want a special kind of pie on any given holiday place your order, or prepare to wake up early to stand in line and hope that they don’t run out of your selection. The story is that the sisters who started the pie shop began with their grandmother’s recipes. I think now they’ve taken it to a whole new level and are having a great time partnering this and that ingredient for a pie-eating experience that’s indeed memorable.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds at 439 3rd Avenue, Ph: 718-499-2917

We can’t keep talking about food because we’ll find ourselves opening the refrigerator, cupboards, drawers, searchng for that perfect treat. We’ll ponder the goodies at one more place and then think of delicious, nutritious salads.

The whoopie pies at Trois Pommes take me back to my childhood in New England; however, Trois Pommes’ jelly donuts remind me of “the donut man” of long ago who operated a shop in his garage. When the garage door opened it was like stepping into donut heaven. He was an elderly man and was proud of his little donut shop, He’d watch us choose and then we’d watch while he pumped jelly into some of the donuts. And out we’d walk with a big bag of donuts for two dollars. Or was it one dollar? Trois Pommes has jelly donuts only on weekends. They disappear quite quickly – sometimes one is left and so it’s shared, and a jelly donut shared by three people is, well . . . you know what I’m trying to say.
Trois Pommes, 260 5th Avenue, Ph:718-230-3119.

We haven’t really begun to explore all the fine food places of Park Slope and its neighbors. I’m thinking that maybe you’ll enjoy doing that on your own. Up and down the streets you go; take your time, relax, and have a day of pure eating indulgence – a little bit here and a little bit there; a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Have a wonderful day!