Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Breath
Comes

Breath
Goes


Ever\so\slight\
Pressure
Air.
Nose.

No limbs
No feet
Just 
Soft
MELTING
Into light.

ENERGY
Urging
Flowing
In all
Hands
Arms
Knees
Fingers
Toes
Starting
And
Staring

Heart
LUNGS
Ribs open
Ribs close.

NO WORDS
NO WORDS
NO MEMORY
Of meditation
So 
Still
So 
Close
SO FILLED
With
Ecstasy
And
Peace.



Monday, December 02, 2019

Utter Snow

And still.
It snows.
And snows.
Everything
goes white.
Rounded.
Soft.
So quiet.

How do those tiny
snowflakes make
such giant piles?
It is a wonder.

Some moments
see me feeling.
Shut in.
Squeezed.
No air.

When I do,
I stare.
Intently.
At the Buddha
statue.
That sits.
That sits.

Shouldered
in utter
silence.
And peace.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Living on a Sunny Lane

This poem appeared this week in Two Drops of Ink. 
"November Poem"

The crisp brown swamp grasses are glowing
in the wetland.
The grass is still green despite the
sheen of white frost this morning.
We are between autumn and winter
in that uncomfortable place
where everything is dying.
Yesterday I tore up piles of limp yellow hosta and
stiff black bee balm stems and peony and bleeding heart.
How quickly their time passed.
As I sit here, I know that all comes alive just to die.
I look longingly at photos of chubby-cheeked babies
and earlier versions of myself.
But I don’t land there except for a glance.
Don’t think for a moment I am
going to lead you down some
depressing
alley way of words.
Find the whole poem at Two Drops of Ink, a fabulous on-line writers' blog.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

November, Eighth Birthday

This being the first day when the fluffy stuff falls
over the lawn and meadow, it’s too cold
to meditate in front of the open door.
Still, I carry my turquoise mug outside
and stand
in the whip of the wind.
Snowflakes fall into my coffee.


This is a day when there is nothing
pressing.
So I go very slowly. I bundle up and
take a walk.
Then back to the mat to do yoga.

In between I am visited by a
an image that scours out my heart.
It is November, 1960, and
I am seven years old. My birthday
is coming in a day or two.

But my family has just been
uprooted from Connecticut
to upstate New York
where my dad has a good job
with IBM. Health benefits.
A pension.

When we moved into the
brand new Cape Cod house
the upstairs where we three kids sleep
is just two-by-fours
and thick chunks of insulation
the color of pink flesh.

That was such a scary time.
I’m remembering my baby
sister crying and saying she
wanted to go back home to
her “real house.” I remember
my  mother, distracted.
I am pretty sure she
was deeply sad, so homesick,
and scared shitless being two hours
away from her beloved parents and
family.

Suddenly I am determined
to run away.
I leave by the back door in the garage.
I wander through the
neighborhood of white houses.
Snow is crusty on
the ground and ice is in
my chest.
I’m not sure but I think I
cried, feeling sorry for myself.
Because it was almost
my birthday and that was supposed
to be a happy time and
I am not happy at all.

At some point I
decided there was no
point in running away.

In my mind, I am still
so awfully sad. I am still poised
by the back door into the
garage. My hand is in a mitten
and my heart is empty.

Today I see that little girl
and she is still crying. I
hold her in my memory
and wrap my arms around
her tightly. I pray that she may
know how much she was
loved then and
now.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Leah Lying Face Down in the Grass

Note: Thanks to artist Kellie Meisl for this amazing image.

It's time that I sit down and write the story that is begging to come out.
The only problem is that I don’t have a clue what it’s about.
It has something to do with the 
profound. The sacred sound of eternity and 
an awareness of 
present moment by present moment.
I think the main character’s name could be 
Leah. A name that means “weary.”
Here she is, still in her turquoise and black pajamas, mid-day.
She is sitting cross legged in her study
meditating. But she has trouble staying focused.
So she gets up and opens the door
and steps outside into the wet grass.
The day is gray and rain is certain.
Less clear, I am, but I think Leah is a reporter,
or at least she was to start. Now she is looking 
to break her own heart.
Open.
Her chest aches with scissored frustration. 
She has written no less than
three million words and still 
it’s a bitch to face the 
white screen. Over and over and over again.
So instead of trying, she drops to her knees and lays
her nose right into the grass and it smells like 
something she cannot possibly describe in words.
At that moment, she is certain OF ONE THING ONLY:
that she cannot write the story
the way she used to.
Once upon a time is no more.
That way she used to lay down line after line of 
velvety prose in words that poured endlessly
out of vivid
movie
pictures
rolling
through
her
mind.
ALL GONE.
No wonder Leah is scared shitless.
No wonder she cannot seem to lay
a single thing down on paper except
colorful splotches of paint.
It’s all just a silence.
She comes back through the back door
of her study realizing this: in the quiet stillness
is something like a
sumptuous pink flower
or a navy blue wave or a sparkling glimmer of
sun on endlessly shifting water.
Now Leah sees that this is not the time
to panic. She ought to know by now
that one thing follows another
and life keeps throbbing a new.
HOPE.
She returns to a seated position 
and lights a candle and starts over
again
in every moment.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Feel Yourself Being Bathed in Light

If you want to feel more relaxed, and more in touch with the energy and mystery of the universe, try this meditation led by teacher Sally Kempton, who has been meditating for more than 40 years.

Start by finding a seat where you can sit upright with your back erect. Feel your sitz bones on the chair. The muscles of the lower body will hold you up.
Draw air into your lungs and abdomen. Let the air fill your entire body, legs and arms. Then release all the air, allowing your crown to rise and lengthen. Repeat this a couple times.
Allow your breath to return to natural rhythm.
Now with your eyes closed, become aware of a star of light overhead.
 The light pulses with love and energy. With an inhalation, allow the light to flow down through your body.
Feel a gentle flow of particles of light passing down through the crown of your head into your face and neck. With exhalation, let the light spread further through the body. With every inhalation and exhalation, feel more and more light expand through your chest and abdomen and hips and thighs and feet.
Your meditation is an invitation to the light to flow through your body. Allow each breath to draw in light. Fill yourself with radiance. You are light. Little by little, let yourself open to this. If thoughts arise simply come back to the sensation of light flooding and filling your body.
Notice how the breath becomes deeper and how the body begins to open. Feel the light above your crown has spread out to surround your body like a luminous egg. You may feel the light coming in all the pores of your body.
Perhaps you can allow yourself to be breathed by this powerful light. Allow yourself to fully bathe in this light.
Sense the presence of the luminous egg. Sense the way the light flows through your body into your pores. You are being breathed. The ocean of air that surrounds us radiates with light. This ocean of energy and light is breathing you. Can you just open to being breathed? Can you allow the deep presence and relaxation to fill your body. Let yourself be with the presence, with the light, relaxing into the universe’s intention to hold and love you.
Allow yourself to remain for as long as you like with this gentle flow of light and breath through your body.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Living in Dad's Light

Living in Dad’s Light

The tiny pink roses
\\\ that lay on the casket/// are dried now.

Raising this question for me: how do we keep Dad’s spirit
alive now that it’s been four weeks since he passed?  I only 
know this much: I see him in every Rose of Sharon.

I see him in the deer that creep closer to the house.
I see him in bright orange Monarch butterflies that light on the bee balm.
I see him in hummingbirds that come especially close.
I see him in blazing sunsets
and lacy cloud patterns

illuminating the sky. I watch him in hawks that dance on the wind gusts.
I feel him in my heart every time I go quiet and breathe slowly.

This morning, he was in the brightly colored umbrella

That protected me from a heavy downpour. Mysteriously, a man at the restaurant where we
had Dad's funeral luncheon just handed me that umbrella 
and told me I could keep it.

I saw Dad quite literally (in army uniform)
an hour later this morning when I went to the mailbox and opened
a package from that same restaurant where we left one of Dad's photos.

Dad was an expert in
energy and electricity
but
ironically
he didn’t
believe in “God.”
He was a materialist. 

But now that he knows better I’m so glad to let him show me the myriad miracles that happen all around us each day.
Baby Dani and Lily carry Dad forward.
Every time we remember something Dad did or said. Every time we look at him in photos. Or read something that he wrote.

Every morning
I use his frying pan
and the eggs have never tasted so good.
I have his turquoise
dish towel.
And his sky blue
sweater.
And the lime green

cardboard box
that he fashioned out
of Amazon boxes and glue.

Let us hold him close in our hearts and let him start to show you all the magic that he carries
through the Universe.
He is PURE LIGHT now, DAD is the energy that FUELS THE VERY ESSENCE
Of you and Me.
The BEING. The LIGHT.
I pray that we all might stay focused on that everlasting mystery
that is his [[[[[Spirit.]]]]]]]]

September 12, 2019



Sunday, September 08, 2019

Eulogy for a Fabulous Grandfather

By Jocelyn Guggenheim

"Eulogy for Pa Rick"

I became involved in my grandfather’s medical care about a year ago. Quickly I realized he had no business being alive. His heart and brain had worked through injuries that would have felled most years ago. But not Pa Rick. His heart and brain were stronger than most. 


He was pretty fascinated by the life he had been given. He often told the story of when he was a teenager, fighting in WWII and narrowly avoided death. He had gotten up to get water in the middle of the night and spotted next to him a grenade that had been faulty and failed to detonate. If it had gone off, he would tell us grandchildren, none of us would be here. 

Rick worked hard to create a life that was worth saving. He and Dee were the quintessential grandparents. They were as supportive, caring and present for us as our parents were.

The home they created was one we could stop in for a meal, a hug, a warm bed or just some company. They picked us up from school if we were injured or sick and they could get there faster than Mom and Dad. 


My grandfather could be impassioned about any subject he found interesting and was happy to start a debate at any time. Religion, politics, biology, you name it.

He could also be a calm and patient teacher. I will never forget when he and Dee


picked me up from the school bus just days after I got my driving permit. Pa said he thought I should drive the 10 minutes home over the mountain. And I was shocked. Dee wasn’t exactly risk inclined and I hadn’t ever driven a car before. And yet away we went, on the state highway with a 55 MPH speed limit over a mountain. I was touched by their confidence in me and their excitement about this new step in my life. Even more touching was the moment when Pa turned to me and very calmly said “some cars don’t accelerate when you go down hill and some need you to apply the break or they will speed up.” I looked down and realized I was going 75 MPH while my grandmother sat wide-eyed in the back seat. But his tone kept me calm and I was able to avoid slamming on the brakes. 

His love for his family was always swirling around his grandchildren.



And when my son was born 5 ½ years ago Pa delighted in Ronen’s love for baseball, even if my Red Sox loving husband turned him into a sox fan. Pa proudly displayed photos of Ronen in his Red Sox hat in various baseball stances on the front door of his apartment in Holyoke. I think he figured he would lure in new friends with the appearance of a cute kid in Red Sox gear before breaking the news that he was a die-hard Yankees fan.


Pa Rick loved being a grandfather and great grandfather and wanted so badly to meet his great grand daughters, Dani Guggenheim and Lily Katherine Scott, both born in August, the month he died. And although they won’t get to experience his playful “last touch” or “claw of pain” (it’s not violent-I promise) the lessons he taught us and stories about him will be passed on for generations to come.

Pa Rick -- Richard Louis Ricci -- died on August 15, 2019 at the age of 93. He will be sorely missed but he lives on in his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Jocelyn Guggenheim, CPNP, is Clinical Director and Director of Pediatrics at the South Boston Community Health Center. She and husband Evan Guggenheim are proud parents to Ronen Dante and Dani Marcella Guggenheim.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

REMEMBERING DAD, A REMARKABLE MAN!

After my mom died in 2015, my father decided to write his own obituary. When he passed on August 15th, my sister Holly expanded on Dad's piece and the obituary appeared in several newspapers. When it was time for me to write the eulogy, I decided to build on the wonderful words of my talented dad and sister. What follows is the eulogy I read at his funeral on August 22, 2019.

Our dad, Rick Ricci, was a really remarkable man. Bright, ambitious, loving, and adventurous, Dad was born in Bristol, Connecticut in July of 1926. He had a can do spirit that was unparalleled. Even as a 14-year old boy in 1940, Dad stood out. That year, he sold a record number of new subscriptions to the Hartford Courant. As a result, he joined a group of 40 other young newspaper carriers who won an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to attend President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third inauguration. Dad went on to compose an essay about his impressions of the trip, and that won him first prize in the Hartford Courant’s essay contest. He took home ten dollars and the honor of having his picture in the newspaper. 

Four years later, in 1944, he was drafted into the US Army. He sailed to Europe in early 1945 on the SS Île de France and joined the 94thInfantry Division, which was attached to General Patton’s Third Army during the Rhineland campaign in Germany. As a military policeman, Dad used to say that he drove military big shots around in a jeep.

Dad was adventurous and after the war he travelled. In early 1946, still an MP, he applied for a security assignment in Africa with the US Civil Service. He was honorably discharged in Casablanca, French Morocco after 23 months of active military duty. After his discharge, he was assigned security duty at an American Army Base in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa. 

Dad was forward thinking and he read a lot. When he got back to the states after the war, he realized that electronics was going to be the industry of the future. He travelled to Chicago and Detroit to attend electronics technical schools. He earned his FCC First Class Radio-Telephone license in 1948 and accepted a job as a transmitter operator and studio engineer at WBIS, Bristol’s new AM radio station. Dad could build anything. And during his time at WBIS, he designed and built many specialized pieces of electronic equipment for the station. He became Chief Engineer in 1953. I remember loving the fact that on Sunday mornings, I could hear Dad talking on the radio while magically he was still at home asleep in bed. 

Dad made what he called the second most important decision of his life in 1957. That’s when he moved into the computer age by taking a job as a Customer Service Engineer in IBM’s Field Service Division in Hartford, CT. In that job, he helped maintain and repair IBM’s largest mainframe computers. In 1960 Dad was promoted to Plant Technical Operations in IBM’s Poughkeepsie, NY plant. There, he served as a Service Planning Representative, coordinating equipment repair problems for various out-of-town customer accounts and creating and implementing new service techniques. 

In 1968, at age 42, he was transferred to IBM’s Product Publications division as an Engineering Technical Writer, producing maintenance and repair manuals for IBM’s newly developed systems. Eventually he was promoted to Senior Publications Planner for Advanced New Systems documentation. He retired after 30 years of service with IBM, but later returned to work as a consultant at the main plant in Poughkeepsie. Meanwhile, Dad bought us our very first personal computers.

Dad always said that joining IBM was the second most important decision in his life. But he made it clear that his most important decision by far was asking the love of his life, Clementina Dena Rotondo, to marry him in 1949. Rick and Dena celebrated 66 happy and fulfilling years together, raising a family and creating warm and welcoming homes in Bristol, CT, Pleasant Valley, NY, and finally Pittsfield, MA. 

As I said, Dad was brave and had an incredible can do spirit. In 1951, with virtually no money and not a lot of building experience, he decided he would build his growing family a new home on a mountain in Bristol, Connecticut. It was ingenious how it worked. The bank gave Dad what’s called a builder’s loan to dig and pour the foundation. Then the bank came out to inspect it; satisfied with his progress, they gave him a second loan, to begin construction. And on and on. That was a wonderful house. He also was generous, helping his brothers-in-law and other family members wire their houses too.

When we moved to Poughkeepsie, Dad quickly realized there wasn’t enough water in the well to support a family of four children. What did he do? He turned to the Roman Empire for inspiration. He built a large cistern out of cinder blocks and cement. That cistern – which he proudly displayed to anyone who was interested – held rainwater which we used for toilets and the washing machine.


 Throughout his lifetime, Dad’s special talent was designing and building things. My sister Holly recently found a drawer full of plans for houses that might have been. My mom sometimes referred to him as a mole because he spent so many happy hours in the basements of his large workshops in both Pleasant Valley and Pittsfield. The pieces he created – furniture, toys, Christmas ornaments -- are all family treasures. In the last few years at Daybrook Village, when he could no longer see well enough to cut wood, Dad became known as the “Cardboard King,” because he created a variety of useful pieces out of the many AMAZON packing boxes that daughter Holly had sent to his apartment.

Dad was absolutely devastated when he lost Mom very suddenly in October 2015. Mom was the quintessential loving and devoted wife and mother. At that point, Dad turned to us kids for solace, and we turned toward him. He often said that his children were his salvation in his final years. And so too were his amazing grandchildren, on whom he doted endlessly. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his grandchildren, and that included traveling to California in 2016 to see his oldest granddaughter Sarah Donohue marry Billy DiCenzo, and Denver a year later for Lindsay Kirsch’s wedding with Geoffrey Kaatz.

Imagine Dad’s delight at having his first great grandson, Ronan Dante Guggenheim, and just as he passed, his brand new great granddaughters, Dani Marcella Guggenheim, and Lily Katherine Scott, whose parents, Lauren and Jay Scott, just got home from the hospital.

While living at Daybrook Village these last three and a half years, Dad had a lot of time to reminisce about his life. He grew up in a very large, loving and boisterous family. He used to tell us about his idyllic boyhood, romping around in the woods behind Grandma Albina and Grandpa Angelo’s backyard on Crown Street, playing with firecrackers and other dangerous objects. Dad always laughed when he recalled the hell that he raised as a kid with his brother Bob and his favorite cousins Bill Moran and John Ingellis. 

Throughout his life, Dad was curious. He always had bounteous gardens. He grew enough Rose of Sharons to populate the whole neighborhood. (One of Dad's beautiful violet Rose of Sharons is now growing in Sweden at the house of dear friends of Dad and Mom.) Dad read voraciously and was open to all kinds of ideas.He loved music (particularly opera and the Big Bands),

and crossword and jigsaw puzzles. He loved playing Poker and Setback, and he faithfully did the Daily Jumble with his wife and daughters. He was also an avid NFL and college football fan, loved watching golf on TV, and most of all, he was a diehard fan of the New York Yankees.  But he did permit his granddaughter Jocelyn to marry a diehard Red Sox fan, Evan Guggenheim.

If there’s one thing I want to leave you with, it’s this: this tiny bird. A couple of years ago, Dad got into perusing catalogues big time. One day he decided to buy each of the women in the family a tiny ceramic bird. Of course, he improved on those birds by gluing cardboard underneath them so that they would be more stable. 

That was my Dad, creative and loving till the very end. We’re going to miss you Dad.  He adored his family and we adored him. I am so very proud and fortunate that I could call him father.

Dad appears here in a photo with grandson Noah Kirsch. The second photo is from my wedding, 41 years ago tomorrow, September 2, 1978. The third photo has dad at age 60 holding my daughter Lindsay, who will be 33 in October.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Dani's Naming Ceremony

By Jocelyn Guggenheim

Dani Marcella is named for grandparents, Dena and Melvin.

Dena was my grandmother. Her full name was Clementina Dena but everyone called her Dena or Dee. She was a warm and funny woman who spent her adult life taking care of her children, grandchildren and her husband Rick. Her first language was Italian but after years of speaking English in school she forgot most of it, save some often quipy, poignant or wise phrases we often called “Deeisms.”

Whenever I called she would say “Ah Jocelina che successe?” meaning Jocelyn what's up? She called me Jocelina Bella Girl so often when I was a child I thought that was my full name and introduced myself accordingly.  Her best “Deeisms” were more punchy with choice phrases about boys interested in her daughters or granddaughters or a favorite “inamore li chiege” when you told her she looked nice. “All the blind men love me,” she quipped. 

Dena loved her family, she loved babies, she was an incredible cook and baker, and she was soft and warm, creating a safe glow in her home and any home she entered. She was also strong, never one to back down when her family needed her support and resolve.

Dani means “God is my judge.” Dena was Catholic but when my mother, Claudia, told her that she was converting to Judaism and raising her children as Jews, Dena’s response was “there are many paths to God.” She wasn’t worried about what others thought of her or of my mother’s choice.

Our hope is that Dani inherits Dena’s warmth and humor, and that she always feels surrounded by the glow of love that Dena brought with her and bestowed on all of those around her.



By Evan Guggenheim

Melvin was my grandfather. He went by Mel, but to us he was “Poppy”. I remember taking long walks with Poppy and his walking sticks, chatting about life, literature, or whatever idea popped into his mind. He never treated us like little kids, except when he was smooshing our faces with scratchy beard kisses.

Poppy was as fearless as he was unconventional. He filled every room a booming opera of love and laughter. Poppy was a pacifist who fought in WWII, and a middle-aged Jew who helped start up an African-American studies program at the University of Hartford. Poppy was never afraid to buck trends and stereotypes to follow his passions.

When his colleagues refused to stop smoking at meetings he showed up with his WWII gas mask and wore it throughout the meeting. He wasn’t afraid to tell anyone what he thought.

It was frustratingly difficult to find a female name with a meaning that wasn’t submissive or docile. Marcella means “Little Warrior” and was the name of Jocelyn’s great aunt, who was also an educator like Papi. We look forward to watching Dani, like her gregarious bearded namesake, tear down convention and make the world a better place.