Deconstructing Mother Day

My respect to women and girls everywhere who make it through Mother Day. A calendar day for courage. Not my point to go there in this essay. My point is let’s get back to the point of Mother Day.

A brief history of ancient times. The Greeks and Romans had cults to celebrate mothers.

A brief history of Mother Day in the last 150 years. Mother Day was intended as a tribute to our individual mother. In a country notorious for desecrating the English language, with the rare placement of a grammatically correct apostrophe, the day became a public commodity. Anna Jarvis is credited with developing the modern Mother Day, however, her own mother Ann Reeves Jarvis had a far more interesting and socially pertinent concept in mind.

Ann Reeves Jarvis was a peace activist who advocated for health and sanitation in the camps of both sides during the American Civil War. She formed in essence grief groups for mothers whose sons died in the war. The public service the women performed gradually evolved into an international peace movement. When men got wind of a growing threat to their favorite game of mayhem, they lobbied for a day to celebrate the women behind the “great men” of this nation. They adroitly returned the spotlight to themselves and their economic self-interest while subtly reminding women of their place. Anna Jarvis advocated for a Mother Day celebration upon the death of her mother Ann. Mother’s Day now extends to over 40 countries. Anna Jarvis was later arrested while protesting the commercialism of Mother Day. In 2019, In the United States, Mother’s Day was expected to gross 25 billion dollars. Billion. 5.something billion dollars in jewelry alone.

I appreciate when my children and friends acknowledge me. They are conscious individuals who don’t need a calendar reminder to be kind and considerate. Mother’s Day has been a can of worms for me since I was a child. I decided to study the history in an effort to reduce the dissonance. Instead, I’m flabbergasted to realize all of the angst and years of anxiety feeling beaten up by an arbitrary date were in reality wasted on an annual event solely intended to realize profits for retailers.

25 billion dollars a year is an astounding figure. What would that much money do for health care, education and poverty? Would people who had food and education be so willing to fall for the promotion of aggression and violence? When people have a safety net of health care they have the emotional and physical strength to look outside of themselves and contribute to easing social ills. And on and on. I’m stating the obvious. The only thing I know for sure is as women, we are better than letting ourselves be used one more time and one more way to make a profit.

We have a year to ponder and decide what we are going to do as individuals to return to the original intention of Mother Day. While acknowledging mother and her contributions, is it possible to simultaneously promote peace? Resolve griefs. Serve others. Donate our segment of the 25 billion to an ethical cause? If we spend the day as intended will we ease our own issues? Of course, this might require investment of self instead of a credit card swipe to assuage our conscience. You’ll have your own ideas if you think about it. What if we take back our power, step out from behind the shoulders of the historical menfolk and make this day a contribution?

Fractals and factions...


Deep in the corner of a Christmas box, I found a kaleidoscope, an inexpensive trinket bought on a whim to remind me of childhood. The magic is in smoke and mirrors, creating fractals. As I turned the barrel, I had a fleeting thought of how the planet and people on it resemble the toy. We are each a beautiful color, part of the world design. Yet, we divide into factions, each group believing their cause is the one to "fight" for the right to be right for. We classify and categorize and specialize each other and our alliances. We scramble to compete for cash to fund our pet project. The Big Bad Other isn't destroying us, they don't have to. They are using the divisiveness between us to their advantage. What if we took the word fight entirely from our vocabulary? What if we channeled the same level of energy to respect each other, rotate our opinions a few degrees, and coalesce into a bigger picture of cooperation, consensus and unified whole? Technically fractals go on forever and don't end at the edge of our myopia. 

Lay over...

Three waves of geese landed at the garden today, hundreds in each contingent. 

Three waves of geese landed at the garden today, hundreds in each contingent. 

The Townies seemed to share my awe. They stopped foraging and stood gawking right along with me. 

The Townies seemed to share my awe. They stopped foraging and stood gawking right along with me. 

When the wild things stop to say hello, I don't feel as abandoned by God and Man here in the city. 

When the wild things stop to say hello, I don't feel as abandoned by God and Man here in the city. 

Does it get better than having fun while you're working?

Photo courtesy of Carlotta Collette.

Tonight was a great evening, the opening of a wonderful show celebrating the history of Oregon City at In Bocca al Lupo Fine Art.  Six of the artists in the show, from left, Gary L. Michael, David Mayfield, Randall David Tipton, Leslie Peterson, Moi and Leland John, photo courtesy of Carlotta Collette. I had a good time hanging out with old and new friends talking shop. The mutual admiration and respect flowed freely, not to mention an abundance of good humor. Times like this I really love my job...

Best Friends...


A conversation sparked considerable pondering on what friendship means and the concept of "best friends."  There are the Friends I've spent the most time on earth with, Friends I've gotten into the most trouble with, Friends I've broken up with, Friends who went their way and were not seen again and Friends who have wandered back into my life after decades. I supposed if I'd spent enough time in one geographical place, I might have a best friend. 

For me a Friend is the person who is looking into my eyes and listening with their heart. In that moment of recognition, I belong to a community and know my worth to another soul on the planet. 

What if we considered every person we connected with as a potential Best Friend? What would happen if we looked across the artificial boundaries of race, religion or nationality into the eyes of the person in front of us? We have the potential to find friends in the most unexpected places. We have the potential to heal a hurting world one Best Friend at a time. 


Groupie love...

True Confession: I’m in groupie love for the first time. 

Groupie love is a bit more discreet for a “mature” woman because the mere idea of jumping up and down while screaming is exhausting. 

Last year, an introduction to the work of Leonard Cohen shifted my world. This man’s music can reduce me to tears. Poet, author, musician, monk and an even bigger surprise, artist. I’m swooning over an (almost) octogenarian.

Sylvie Simmon’s book I’m Your Man chronicles the life of Leonard Cohen. Wading through the early years of sex, drugs, etc. I was wondering why I’d chosen to spend my time on this fellow. Then we hit Cohen’s middle years. The seeker. The modern mystic. The monk. The man with the guts to go back to work at seventy to recoup retirement stolen by a trusted friend. 

In “Dance Me To The End of Love” Cohen absorbed a heinous world event and metabolized it until he found beauty for the victims, writing a melody so evocative people choose it for their wedding song ~ when in truth the lyrics honor the musicians who were forced to play and watch as loved ones were marched to the gas chambers in Nazi death camps.  

Leonard Cohen has given me the great gift of a new way to perceive. Holding dichotomies in the same resonance without blame is the beginning of peace, a springboard for creativity.



Believe you can ...

Time flies when you’re having a good time.

Two months ago I passed an empty space and briefly thought it would make a good gallery. The First Friday in July, my gallery, In Bocca al Lupo opens. A quote attributed to Goethe, some say William H. Murray has influenced my intentions for several decades now:

“…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have believed would have come his way. (I’ll refrain from comment on the gender typing.)  

Whatever you think you can do or belive you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.”

An idea has almost effortlessly materialized into reality. And help has been there. I’m touched by the support and encouragment of the business community, neighbors of the gallery and the artists who participate. Friends are cheering us on. Magic indeed!

Literally everyone I’ve spoken to or interacted with has been positive ~ grace personified. There are times when consternation blooms if I allow myself to consider what I’m doing. At those moments, I take a deep breath and consciously relax into the stream of life and creation knowing the Universe is moving in my behalf and thus the behalf of others. Flow. I feel awe and wonder at how well things work if we get out of our own way and trust a bigger picrture. 

Hope you will come celebrate with us!



Oregon Book Awards

A marvelous evening at the Oregon Book Awards. The theme of the winner’s comments, to me (we all hear and resonate differently with our experience to find meaning) is:

press on in spite of circumstances or who bludgeons you with can’t.

Pulitzer Prize nominee, Larry Colton’s colorful acceptance speech of the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award powerfully advocated the need to support teachers. He related failing his college placement English segment, and flunking the requisite remedial “bonehead English course.” His professor was less than kind, yet, Mr. Colton is honored for a lifetime spent writing and mentoring teachers.

Storm Large, whose one woman play Crazy Enough transformed my personal vision, won the Creative Nonfiction award for her autobiography by the same title.  All of my life, those who want desperately to maintain their status quo have told me I’m too much, too loud, too intense, too strong, too something very unacceptable and Ms. Large’s courage to share her story, in one magical evening shifted my perception and replaced the negative programming with the idea I too am “crazy enough” to make something wonderful with my talents and strenghts.

Ismet Prcic, in an after party conversation said his uncle told him he’d never accomplish anything because he “couldn’t speak English.” Mr. Prcic carried home the award for fiction. The take away for me was his closing remarks of acceptance,

“You can’t do it unless you do it.”

Portland writers are collegiate, open-hearted, fostering and generous with their time and abilities. A writer friend graciously remembered and asked me about my project even though we’d not seen each other for months. Affection and support undergirded encouragement and I came home from the evening feeling like Wonder Woman, ready to finish off a few books, screenplays and poems ~ one word at a time.

Oh, What a night...

Kindergarden students from Sabin School

display their work at A Children’s Place Bookstore on NE Freemont Street. The pictures sell for $50.00 each. I’m happy the children are being supported in their creative expression and kudos to A Children’s Place.

The paintings were one more sweet surprise at the posthumous launch of

Bridget Zinn’s Young Adult novel, Poison.

It was very moving to witness the Portland community of Young Adult authors come together to support Bridget’s book. The excerpted readings by Bridget’s colleagues and friends piqued my interest and I’ll be curling up with a copy tonight.

Times like these, I’m very grateful to live in a city providing so many amazing opportunities while remaining a neighborhood of kind and loving friends.

Read more about Bridget here.


Crystal Springs ~ again...

Watercolor, Pitt pen and gouache sketch from a trip to the garden a couple of days ago. Thank you to Jacqueline Newbold for the ideas on how to prep a sketchbook. I find a light wash allowed to dry before the plein air session helps me get over myself and the ego need for “perfection” with a jump right in, damn the torpedos, energy.

Here’s a partially completed page with a wash of watercolor, divided by artist’s tape, in preparation for a field trip. The goose was from life and the fall scene from memories of a recent trip home to Alaska.