For Remembrance, For Gratitude


 When I spend time with Marissa Bridge and Joe Lamport on Long Island, the sounds of the birds and the breeze rustling the leaves, the grasses, the sleepy pace, strolls to the water’s edge, the big kitchen of their beautiful house, they all remind me of an ideal of childhood that never happened.


 Many Eastern philosophies state that yearning of any kind: for the past, for an imagined and specific future, for a lover’s arms, they all cause suffering and are disguised but thwarted impulses to merge with the divine.  The pain of yearning can be solved by merely stepping from the needs of the individual personality  into gratitude for the majesty of this universe, for the fleeting time on earth.

I resist nostalgia because it’s unproductive, but nostalgia is exactly what I feel when I am out there with Joe and Marissa, like stepping into a loving home where the most important thing in the world is found in a single moment on a summer day without a care in the world.


Remembering innocence and all who were here and now gone.  For my mother, Jacqueline Urdang, whose favorite flower was the Iris.


  Marissa’s is the orchid.  She’s seen from the upstairs guest bedroom window, carrying one to her painting studio.  Click here for a previous post on her works: A Life In Flowers   Gratitude to Marissa and Joe for making their home a welcomed place for my heart.

Twenty Five Years of Trees, Sixty Plus of Sisterhood

IMGMy sister, Melanie, and I before we knew what was happening, although being almost two years older, I was beginning to.


 Melanie’s side yard in Northeastern Pennsylvania where she is a weekend gardener of purples.  This Japanese Maple has been dessimated by storms a couple of times, but this year, shaping it was easy.  That’s my job every Spring and I am most proud to contribute to her beautiful vision of country life.


As sisters who know everything about each other, so alike in some ways that we are taken for twins, yet so different too, we live in a combination of fierce love one minute, and then a clash bangs in and we slide down a slippery jagged slope of unspoken grief that only families can do.


Forever united, we stand apart like two trees on one ancient estate.


And miraculously, in spite of lengthy history, our happenstance upbringing, and distinct universes, we are civilized creatures who recognize in each other, the magic Maples that grow inside.

Through The Tunnel


Noticing that  tunnels and collonades are particularly resonant with how I feel right now, I asked myself why this world of tricky lighting, these otherworldly places of mystery are speaking to me with such depth and clarity of tones.


And then light filters through and I think, “Aha! I know why I’m here:”


For the enrichment of my cells, as a test of strength and structure,


For growth


And rebirth,


For inspiration from the ages.

  I’m trusting the architects and all of mankind’s facination with metaphors for passage through chapters of our lives.

My friend, Paul Smith, lives in Japan,and took the red column photo.  The bamboo and Wisteria photos are from stock images.  The first two and last one are mine, all from Rome.

A Scarecrow named Emily

George Goen and I always spend a weekend in the Spring at his house so I can witness the beauty of his perennial flower garden.  Ten years ago, he began carving it out of the hilly and rocky woods.


Today, it’s a feast for the senses.  In support of his backbreaking endeavor, I helped plant hundreds of bulbs in Novemeber, some of which are pictured here.


But all is not a perfect paradise on this nine acres of property.   Underneath the lush facade of beauty lurks critters that insist on wreaking havoc on his vegetable garden.  When George invited me for the weekend, he said he needed some of our juju to make a scarecrow.  That’s right down my alley, I told him, although, Emily, as we named her after we bought her thrift store outfit, was my first.


We started by stuffing a bulb bag with straw and rocks for her model features.  She wanted to wear the Happy Birthday glasses, as it was, after all, her first day on the job and the planet.


Seen here, her lovely figure and stance, with ribbons hanging from her arms to create more terror on the hearts and minds of the devious creatures.  The garden is as secure as the Vatican and even withs a fine selection of nourishment to be had all over they place, they prefer to invade and eat their fill of George’s organic food.  Until Emily hit the runway.


She is a total natural and completely successful at her new job; very happy too, as you can see.  Especially since we gave her the finest pair of red lips this side of Hollywood.

For more juju between George and I, click on Easter Juju With George: 

Or, read The Urchins about an unGodly attempt to rid the garden of varmits:

Love to My Mother

My mother and I @ 24 years old, and a few months, respectively.


Christmas Day, seven years later,


In the late 60’s, hippie chick and jazzy Mom

IMG_0006My mother valued erect posture, good looks, fast cars, intelligent minds, and her children.  Ultimately though, it was love that she wanted and cherished most.  I love you, Mom, wish you were here, and thank you for always believing in me, even when it was a stretch.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and their courage to bring children into this wonderful and crazy world.  Without you, there wouldn’t be a we.

A Life In Flowers

In the recent past, life has been very hard on the old men I know, including my father and those of close friends.  It’s such a dramatic cycle, I keep calling it No Country for Old Men.  As sad a time this is for so many,  it’s as natural as the different stages of a blooming orchid stalk.

#11 Orchid Series 2012-13

A little over a month ago, my dear friend, Marissa Bridge, visited her father for the last time.  Right after that, at ninety eight and a half years old, he left this world.  He lived so long, Marissa never thought he would actually be gone.

#6 Orchid Series 2012 folio

She’s a painter and actively engaged in an ongoing series she calls The Journey: all different stages of one orchid plant.  It symbolizes transitions in life, the passing of time: growth, maturity, and last but equally dynamic, decline.

#14 Orchid Series 2012-13 folio

With eyes on these paintings, and face to face with her, my pink heart blossomed.  Honoring cycles of life with the orchid as a metaphor, it is her hope that future viewers will understand something about life just by looking at them.


 Whether painting orchids or lilies, Marissa is painting herself, her beautiful life in flowers.

For more loveliness go to:

Time After Time

In the late sixties, my ex and I lived in what is now South Street Seaport on the entire second floor of a defunct seaman’s hotel.  There were five empty floors above.  We illegally payed rent to the tenant on the first floor, a man with a business that never opened.

Our only neighbors, a young hippie couple, were blocks away squatting in a three story  building.  It was my first exposure to this rent free option.  They made a silver deck off the second floor where she, a tiny young girl from Connecticut, grew pots of thriving herbs for her makeshift kitchen.  One morning, Daniel, the boyfriend, brought over a fresh bluefish wrapped in The New York Times that he had seen a dock worker steal and stash.  With only a cooktop at their building, this dark and brooding artist designated me to cook his fish.

It fed ten hippies a memorable feast, it was the first time I used dill, and for a couple of hours, I was the queen of the evening, an event that turned me into a cook.

Not long after the bluefish, late one night in pouring rain, someone pounded on the garage door that served the non-business below us.  My ex went down and returned with the Connecticut girl, dripping wet.  Through sobs and shivering, she described Daniel as a schizophrenic and announced that she was moving back to her hometown. “Just one night,” she pleaded, as she put her soggy bag of worldly possessions on the floor.  I quickly got her a towel, made a plush pallet for her, worried that Daniel would pound on the door next, and we all went to bed.

“Oh, these sheets,” she said from her position below our iron bed, “they feel heavenly.  We never sleep on them.  Daniel thinks they’re unnecessary.”  My heart broke in two for her deprivation of the simple luxury of clean sheets.

Almost twenty years later in 1987, after moving from, then back to New York, I made friends with a bunch of bicycle riders.  Once a week, Rolling Thunder took to the streets, from neighborhood to neighborhood, exploring and generally promoting mischief in which we would need to ride away quickly with a person of authority, like a night guard, yelling at our backs.  That’s when I saw Daniel for the first time in all those years: on one of those rambling bicycle nights.  He looked raggedy but well preserved; in fact he hadn’t aged at all.  As we flew by him, it was his brown eyes that were most recognizable.  I didn’t stop because he was behind us in a flash, there were many people with me, and I had harbored his departing girlfriend years before.


In 2009, I was crossing Central Park, going from the Museum of Natural History, past the Swedish cottage, Shakespeare Garden, up around the castle, above Turtle Pond, on my way to the east side.  I had been doing this for months, three times a week, on my way to see a client at the Carlyle Hotel.  As I came down from the castle, there sat Daniel, apparently homeless, with a neatly packed red wire cart at his side, reading The New York Times, and smoking a cigarette with a sand bottom ash tray next to him on the bench.  Speechlessly, I speed-walked on, thinking maybe I would talk to him if I could think of what to say.

Stroll after stroll, I saw him, virtually unchanged except for a few gray hairs and a slightly receding hairline that gave him an air of aristocratic countenance.  I thought he must have a family that cares for him in spite of his lifestyle, because he consistently read The Times in a clean shirt and sports coat.  One day on the way to the Carlyle, I decided that if he was still there on the way back, I would stop and reintroduce myself.  In my head, the exact language cycled through.

An hour later, on the way out of the hotel via Madison Avenue, I heard someone screaming ‘No, no no,’ over and over again.  Pushing the door to the outside, the NO’s came from a man holding his head, marching back and forth where I stood.  He was crying.  The foreman of a construction project he was responsible for everything.  The jaws of a bulldozer had just come down on an unnoticed jaywalking pedestrian.  The elegant victim, a mere 20 feet away, was gracefully sprawled, a flying seventy-year-old very fit dancer performing rond de jambe en l’air.  But he was on the ground, gray and lifeless.

I quickly left the scene, weaving blindly through throngs of horrified people.  As the foreman’s NO’s became fainter, I hit the park where I started to run and weep for the man who lost his life in one moment’s careless act, something most people do frequently, I thought, without serious consequences.

Daniel still sat on his bench.  Only able to express grief and fear I breathlessly ran past him as hard and fast as I could go.  He was never there again.  But that doesn’t mean we won’t cross paths in the future.  Our separate threads of life seem to be strung in the same loose cloth, destined for another brief juncture.  If that happens, whether or not I talk to him is to be determined.