Mr. Viglione

for gardeners everywhere

Becoming Mr. Viglione

When I was a kid
We lived high up near the Glen
Lake horizon view

Mr. Viglione
lived in our village too
tending his garden

The tomatoes and
the roses, the grapes, others
Italian section

Driving by his house
There’s Mr. Viglione
My Dad said to us

Retired, grey, old as
he tended his gardens
Ever in my mind’s eye.

Now I’m retired
in soil and in peace I tend
My gardens too.

Amid the weeds, sky brightzinnia
Soil filling my nail beds
Full circle, I realize

I am Mr. Viglione.

Oh Martha, Where are You?

I had always wanted to live on a farm. To pick fresh veggies and make a soup. And today, just today, that is what I am going to do. My husband is a gardener extraordinaire, he makes me tired watching his schedule. Yet for him, it is almost effortless. 7 AM going to go water the central garden. 8 AM want an egg? Sure. Ok, then I am going to go out and route the water so that I can reach the garden without carrying buckets over to it.

Photo by Navada Ra on

These conversations are routine. Meanwhile, at that hour I am still trying to crank up my muscles and joints for the day. I wish, oh how I wish, that the inside of our house, mirrored the lovely gardens outside, but it doesn’t. There is a caveat here though, when we have company, we clean up well. We put on the cinnamon clove potpourri, deck the bathroom in smells of lavender, sweep, mop and dust and provide a pretty nice respite for our guests.

But we don’t do much entertaining these days, covid isn’t a thing of the past for us, we still wear masks in stores. So, to keep up the house without the impetus of company coming has been a stretch for me. Luckily, we can tolerate the piles. That is really the problem. We have piles.

Piles of Amazon boxes to burn, can’t do that during a very dry spell; piles of things to go to the Salvation Army ( all that downsizing), piles of art supplies because, what do I make next?; piles of papers…how long should I keep those insurance forms? Piles of hats…is it sunhat weather or baseball hat weather? Once a pile is formed, it seems impossible to get rid of it.

Let’s say, on any given day, I do get rid of a pile. It seems as if the hot spot just sits in wait for the next time something in its genre comes along. I have been following Martha Stewart since I moved here and before, she never has piles around. I am sure she has written about how to deal with them and I know Fly Lady has. These women seem to avoid homeless items and keep the open spaces of their homes clear.

Well, I better go now. I am going to pick up a pile and then make a homemade vegetable soup from garden veggies. I guess if piles are my thing, my destiny, I might as well embrace the whole picture until the solution appears on a magazine cover. I am glad I got the vegetable soup vision right!


Collage with images from Tricycle Magazine

I was thinking of Samara this week. The beginnings and the endings. This photo came across my lap and I made first a collage, and then a photoshop document. (I think it is ok to use this photo but I will have to check out the copyright on it.)

Samsara means, according to Wikipedia, the beginningless cycle of repeated birth, mundane existence and dying again.[1] Samsara is considered to be dukkha, suffering, and in general unsatisfactory and painful,[2] perpetuated by desire and avidya (ignorance), and the resulting karma.[3][4][5] It is harsh and well depicted in the movie Samsara.

To find peace in the perpetual wheel is not only difficult but well worth it, it requires the greatest of acceptances. Acceptance of all that was, could have been, and will never be. The sad endings and the hopeful beginnings. Finding center and holding it there, or letting it lean to the left and to the right, knowing it will come back, a wish and a prayer.

Watch Samsara the movie on Amazon or other streaming services. It is eye opening!

From seven years working @ Cornell History

From seven years in history,
I learned
the complex life that is the Academy:
deadlines,  papers,  tech, and
the rewards:
researching, creating, developing:
sharing ideas.

From seven years in history, 
I learned
that we are not exceptional.
We just think we are: 
manifest from God on high to his “American” creatures
City on the Hill shines bright
Hollywood movies make it glimmer.
Fordlandia exposed
We did not listen
One million: largest per capita Covid death rate 
in the world.
A nation's greatest strength, its greatest weakness.

From seven years in history,
 I learned
that a letter signed by Nelson Rockefeller, 
a coveted letter I knew someone had,
is like the war on drugs:
a creation to keep the power with the powerful
A book cover says a thousand words,
Goggle Getting Tough.

From seven years in history, 
I learned
that biography happens in context 
Grace Halsell
had notes on everything, 
there would only be so much time to sift through 
to paint a picture of her life
and while a Historian did this, 
he said, 
nearing 80, Grace started an autobiography,
then death took her.
We are all so time limited:
Tell your story now!

From seven years in History:
I got it, finally, the French Revolution! 
the end of feudalsim,
the meaning behind the meaning: the birth of modernity;
the beginning of world capitalism;
greed unshackled;
the mechanization of life;
then the rebuttal:
from each according to his means to each according to his ability:
except humans are jealous, envyious, and sociopaths.
The 1619 Project,
Personally, I believe in you
40 years of work: 
1982: lunch an hour of human connection; 
2022: lunch a ten minute scarf with my effervescent blue friend.
What makes us human?

From seven-years at Cornell History
I learned 
that as the crow flies,  
Ten miles southeast from my bedroom window... 
History is more than social science, 
it is a story, and 
it can be told as a story 
accurate information and narratives
sail across time, as Humboldt sailed across the seas.

From seven-years in History
I learned 
again, that people don't care what you know until they know you care.
Add some art
Add social media
Meet people where they are!
Invite them in
They will come!
to lectures, classes, articles, podcasts!

From seven years in History
I learned 
that 3000 tweets
put a department of Sage
into the stream of life
no longer alone in books and students' minds
history is threading itself 
into the tapestry of life 

From seven years in History
I learned 
that everything has a history and a context.
Charles Manson, you nut job, you have meaning,
historical meaning!
There is a history of love and 
Acceptance is all. 
Fabric can tell a story:
Who makes it, How? 
The Bread Question?: Google it;-)
Science has a history, right here at Cornell
Cornell has a World War I history.
Women and men are rocking it in History!

From seven years in History
so much more to learn
How do women on the Threshold of liberty do it?
This book arrives Sunday.
Can we learn from these women?
What can I learn from them?
China and Asia, how little I know and how
much you have to show me.
May I one day go on a Haj with you in my mind
stopping off in Rome to visit Caesar’s homeland.
Man's search for meaning,
in the law; 
in the transgressions of racism;
I can't get to you all.

I can't mention every thing I have learned:
The witches brew has not been created for that.
There is still work to do
In a world, lost in billions and billions of silica bits
We need history majors to guide us.
We need them in mass and we need them now!
In industries, in governement, create the position, spend the money.
Synergize the knowledge.
What’s in it for YOU?
Capitalize on History.
Don’t repeat it.
Write your own Informed action plan.

More work to do:
Cornell History, Claire Perez thanks you!



It’s 10:33 pm

For some reason, night writing seems to be happening. The moon is hovering in the skylight above and I am grieving. But no one died.

I am grieving my dreams, the ones I had 25 years ago when I moved here, the many that came true and are gone, and the ones that can never be. I didn’t realize I was grieving until I cried in my husband’s arms the other day, perplexed, and he said, I think this is grief.

I used to be a very dark soul.At 19, I took the Rorschach test, and came out of it very dark and gloomy. But then, over the next ten years, I found my soul and I became, if not happy, happier. By 35, I had created myself from a skinny, underweight gal with a too short, Helmut head haircut into the me I dreamt of being. Shoulder length hair and a lot of bounce in my step to go with it.

That is when I met Ram and that was the beginning of more re creation. There were parties and more country parties, there were good jobs and not so good jobs, and there are dogs.  But, I was always becoming. And I was always dreaming. Every good magazine, Instyle, and Architectural Digest led me to visions of me that danced in my head.

I recreated some of those visuals, if only on a very small scale. Three years ago, I ran a little rental for the summer and it was adorable. I spent more time dreaming it into being than I spent in the short term rental business. I will say people who came wrote great reviews and I did bring to fruition what I imagined.

But the whole time, I had anchors here. People I knew, saw regularly or irregularly, but people I could count on. One of my favorite, most true anchors was a friend named Glenna. She was a friend to both Ram and I and two weeks ago, she moved. Just knowing she was 15 minutes away was a peaceful feeling. You could drop in to Glenna’s anytime and she’d have a story and a cup of tea for you. I wished I had visited her more because now she is in another state, hopefully settling in nicely.

We had another anchor, Rene. He was Ram’s best friend. He was always calling to check on us and forever calling  Ram on his birthday and holidays. Then one day last year he passed, just disappeared into the ether. Rene and his wife were in our wedding twenty-five years ago. We miss him so. 

The other day I was putting some things away for a posterity that could care less, and I sat down in a big red chair that my Mother in law Sat in years ago. Another anchor who left just as I was being calmed in her presence. 

Impermanence has never seemed so permanent. I keep reaching for my old anchors in my head, their protective guardian spirits but they are gone. It was fun to dream while they were nearby, it gave my dreams their possibility between the solid pillars of routine, warmth, and love you can count on when you don’t live close to family but have dear friends. 

Where do I place my dreams now in this aging, sore body? We are, I understand, terminal, but I have to find a way for the dreams to emerge. A place where they can be with only my anchor.

The Recipe

I keep looking for the magic recipe that will take me back in time to three years ago when life seemed to stretch from here to eternity. Well if not eternity, some time far far away.

Those were times of maskless concerns and fresh fresh air. Opportunity as limitless as my brain and two legs could take me. But then we had a pandemic and then I blew my knee\back out and my dog Moby died. And somewhere in there, I realized things just weren’t going back to 2019.

My Mother passed in 2018, four years ago on Easter Sunday, we brought a big ham down for the main course. It was her last Easter, she wasn’t feeling good but she ate the ham and got a big kick out of it. I keep thinking that if this time warp could fast forward then her four years would feel like four but instead it feels like one, maybe two.

It’s been a weird time to live in a transient community. People seem to be evacuating at the speed of light: Rochester, Buffalo, California,  Ohio, and heaven. Anywhere seems to be a better place to be and I have never been happier for daytime TV.

Those shows move from hour to hour as a back drop to my work and household chores, especially in winter, they cushion the hours during the pandemic that is over but not really over. I ran into a person who travels a lot the other day and I asked him how he is managing.

I thought I was the only one in this pandemic desert but it turns out nope, he doesn’t do much either. Work, home, a few nights out, and that is it.

One of my friends will retire soon. I was there the day she started her job back in the Triassic period. That adds another layer to all this misogas: retirement. No wonder I feel weird, disoriented, as if someone had stopped the clock while it kept on ticking.

There ain’t no magic recipe to turn back this clock. Maybe the Baldwin sisters on Walton’s Mountain left it somewhere in the cloud for times like these.

Out present dog Azi. He is keeping watch and we are grateful.

Ram…the best chef

It is a wonder

I never have to prep food

So grateful am I.

Cooking real good stuff

Takes me too long and tires me

So I surrender.

Thanks Ram for cooking

This last week, so much good food

The  mashed potatoes,

The rice with mushrooms

The baked haddock with tartar sauce

Salad with red wine herb,

Vegetable herb soup 

That almost lasted a week.

Panko asparagus

Berry shake w gambusha

Sandwich w pickles.

Thanks for all the love

Wrapped up in home cooked

Fussed over food:-)

Will Smith…we are heartless

I know that Will Smith punched Chris Rock after a joke he made about his wife. I also know that the pr is scathing from many.I heard that Will Smith carries deep regret about witnessing his father beat his mother while he remained, a child, powerless.

Is it fair to say Will should know better. It sure is and his cognitive brain obviously does or his apology wouldn’t have been so rapid. But my guess is Will Smith’s nervous system was trapped far away in his childhood.

There he was, a man about to get an award or maybe not, nervous system on edge, when the monster from his childhood emerged in a perceived verbal assault on his wife. Will lost it, most probably broke himself out of the freeze mode he was trapped in as a kid, and went up to Chris Rock to defend his wife, who represented his mother.

I think this is a trauma issue and I think it is so true that when we build a man up we love to bring him down. Sure, Will Smith should suffer the consequences for his actions, but in a world that watches the heartless Roger Stones of the world go free, can’t some of us give Will a little compassion. Can’t we look at Will likea triggered soul, one that acted badly!, and ask why? What hurts a person so deeply that at the height of their career, at the most public moment, they self sabotage and hit a comedian?

Our society is not woke to trauma, we are composed of technologically proficient animals often unable to recognize the difference between our automatic repetilian brain and the long distance to our neo-cortex.

I hope Will Smith gets some help and I wish people knew more about polyvagal theory than they do. Honestly, we would all be a lot less judgy . The Body Keeps the Score explains Besel Van der Kolk in his best selling book. When we get that as a species, I bet there will be less condemnation of the Will Smith’s of the world and more condemnation of world leaders acting from a place in the brain closer to the front than the back.

If it looks and feels like a dog that bit us, our nervous system will react