The Lady in the Van

“And what I’ve learned, and maybe she taught me, is that you don’t put yourself into what you write. You find yourself there.” Alan Bennett .

This brilliant insight comes from the British playwright, author, actor as he recounts the mostly true tale of Mary Shepherd, who lived in a van on his driveway in North London for 15 years.

Mary Shepherd. Photo by Alan Bennett.

The book, stage play and 2015 film, starring Dame Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings, documents the friendship of the author with Shepherd, a woman he met as she sold pencils on a street corner.

This cantankerous 60 year old vagrant, former music prodigy, nun,  victim of institutionalization and blackmail was an inspiration to Bennett until her death in 1989.

The quote stopped me in my tracks, forced me to rewind.

It spoke to the truth of self discovery, all from the exercise of writing.





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We’ve all done it. You break an egg, pieces of shell end up in your bowl.

You reach in to retrieve it, with a spoon, knife, or mostly, your finger.


All you really need is the rest of the shell.

When dipped into the bowl, it acts like a magnet, drawing out the slippery pieces.

The shell has the ability to reunite its broken parts.

I didn’t know this, and I’ve been baking since 9th grade Home Economics class.

It reminds me of how many times in life that we dip our finger into an issue instead of allowing a situation to naturally correct itself.

The message is clear.

It is never too late to learn something new.


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Storm Puppies

The winds came, the fence was down. I wandered away, hiding in a shed from something called “Irma”.

So much pressure, the puppies would not wait. When they found me, I was holding up a large board, protecting my clan.

They gave me a new name. Atlas.


Photo courtesy. Orlando Sentinel.

These pups were born in a shelter in Orlando, Florida days after Hurricane Irma. Experts note that the force of the wind in these events will erase scent markers, leaving pets unable to find their way home.

Thanks to Sarah Brentyn for her 50 word challenge for hurricane relief.

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Puerto Rico

Photo. Ricardo Arduengo. Getty Images.

This drone photo, featured as photo of the week by several publications, represents some of the hurricane devastation to the island of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory whose name translates as “rich port”.

Just a few suggestions of ways to help…

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“Don’t Push the River…

…It Flows by Itself.”

Courtesy. Sue Vincent

Released by author and Gestalt therapist Barry Stevens, it was the self-help book of my generation.

The pages are well worn, dog-eared, book-marked and highlighted in my copy of the 1970 book.

I often recommended it to friends, who were quick to notice that the title just about says it all. The original is no longer in print, and that’s too bad. It is the kind of book that is more of an experience, than merely a good read.

Barry Stevens, 1902-1985, born Mildred Fox, documented her 1969 experience at the Vancouver Gestalt institute under the teachings of Fritz Perls.

This high school dropout, who claimed that in 1918, she “could not learn what she wanted to know in school”, went on to study Zen Buddhism, Native American practices, and the teachings of Krishnamurti, and presented a book that flows very much like life itself.

There have been many times in my own life that I’ve forgotten the lesson of letting the river flow.

This photo triggered some wonderful memories, and maybe a return to my bookshelf for a bit of a refresher course.

Thursday photo prompt – Flow #writephoto

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Ice Cream and You

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light”, or maybe, against the dying of summer, as in the case of ice cream giant Baskin-Robbins. *

Late in August, they released the results of a study “What Your Ice Cream Eating Preferences Say About You,” teaming with behavioral food expert Juliet A. Boghossian.

A cross section of one thousand U.S. consumers were surveyed, revealing some interesting personality traits.

The results are fun to explore.

How do you prefer your ice cream ?

Ice Cream Cone…You are The Optimist, an idealist who leads with your heart. Those who choose sugar cones are the life of the party and are funny, edgy, performers. Waffle cone lovers are more traditional and nurturing caregivers, likely the host of the party.

Bowl or Cup… You are The Realist, an analytical type, a rational thinker.  You’re responsible, dutiful, family-oriented and hardworking.

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich… You might be considered The Eccentric, and have a complex mix of contradictions, known to be a artistic, impulsive and idealistic.

Ice Cream Sundaes… You are The Ambitious, and are open, passionate, motivated and loyal, plus take calculated risks.

Out Of The Carton… You, of course, are The Practical; resourceful, dependent, pragmatic, an introvert and are often strong leaders.

Milkshake… You are The Free Spirit, young at heart, fearless, athletic and are more likely to take impulsive risks.

Check out the entire survey here.  

* Quote from the famous poem of Dylan Thomas, who opens with these lines..

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.



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Ancient Trees


She took her camera to some of the darkest, most isolated places on earth, to photograph trees that have survived thousands of years.


Beth Moon, famed photographer and  author of the 2014 book, Ancient Trees:Portraits of Time, studied the link between tree growth and planetary movement.

“The oak, for example, appears to be linked with Mars, the beech with Saturn, and the birch with Venus,” she writes in the essay that accompanies her new book, Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees, published in 2016.

In a series of amazing long-exposure images, Moon showcases old-growth trees against star-filled skies from South Africa to California.

She captured baobabs, quiver trees, pines, Joshua trees, sequoias and oaks, lit by constellations in both hemispheres.

Isolated from the light pollution of cities and towns, these ancient trees have endured without human interference, maintaining those unobstructed sky views.


Astronomer Jana Grcevich notes that visible light from the most distant stars takes about a thousand years to reach the earth, the same length of time that many of Moon’s trees have been growing, adding that Moon’s photographs “give us a connection between Earth and its larger context, between ourselves and our place in the universe.”


Post inspired by the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as we watch the devastation to lives and landscapes.

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