Veronica Shoftshall

September 19, 2016

After awhile you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises. 

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
With the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain.
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn and learn.
With every goodbye you learn.

The Formidable Isabella Gardner

August 31, 2016


          The review in the travel guide of “things to do in Boston” suggests that if given two days, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a must. If, however, you only have two hours, then the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is the stop. Little is known about the palace that stands across from the MOFA,  outside of the inner circle of arts, but with a strong cult following, this museum has something for everyone.                                                                               This counter-institution provides one with an intriguing look into the life of the  “queen” of Boston’s Fenns of 1902.  The palace, operating as a museum since the beginning of the 20th century,  is dark, dank, and stuffed with clutter. There is not a naked wall, a cleaned desktop or empty corner to be found throughout the hallowed halls.
          The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s preeminent collection contains more than 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, rare books and decorative arts. It also offers classes for adults and students, community events, walks through expansive gardens and performances in the Calderwood Hall.
          Intrigue surrounds the museum as in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the Gardner Museum and stole thirteen works of art.

          Thieves  gained access into the Museum by posing as Boston police officers and stating that they were responding to a call. The guard on duty broke protocol and allowed them entry through the Museum’s security door.

Once inside, the thieves asked that the guard come around from behind the desk, claiming that they recognized him and that there was a warrant out for his arrest. The guard walked away from the desk and away from the only alarm button. The guard was told to summon the other guard on duty to the security desk, which he did. The thieves then handcuffed both guards and took them into the basement where they were secured to pipes and their hands, feet, and heads duct taped. The two guards were placed 40 yards away from each other in the basement.

The next morning, the security guard arriving to relieve the two night guards discovered that the Museum had been robbed and notified the police and director Anne Hawley.

The stolen works include: Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee and A Lady and Gentleman in Black both from 1633 as well as and a Self Portrait from 1634. Only a blank wall remains where the most valuable stolen work of art, Vermeer’s The Concert (1658–1660) hung.

          In 1919, Isabella Stewart Gardner suffered the first of a series of strokes and died five years later, on July 17, 1924. Her will created an endowment of $1 million and outlined stipulations for the support of the museum, including that the permanent collection not be altered.

Senior Center Takes a Chance

August 25, 2016

sharing-life-logo On Wednesday, August 24th the Costa Mesa Senior Center took a chance on love and guess what happened? Love won over our hearts! Perhaps the Costa Mesa Senior Center staff gambled when they decided to host a screening of the 2014 film “The Age of Love.” However, I would say this successful event was a turning point for the Center.

More than 100 men and women of all ages were on hand not only to be entertained but to participate in a live discussion with the acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter, Steven Loring. For Mr. Loring the making of this film was personal. Before the documentary aired (live via broadcast), he shared with the audience that the sudden death of his father at 70 which left his mother alone and lonely launched his quest to find answers about love for older adults.

“The Age of Love” took us on a journey with 30 seniors from 70 to 90 who signed up for speed dating. Sharing the onscreen experiences and the touching moments of fear and happiness, the audience laughed and sighed aloud. We heard what we already knew to be true in our hearts that aging isn’t kind but there is life after loss. Personally, I was touched as I watched from a back row as heads nodded when one participant said, “aren’t we all in search of companionship, friendship and someone to share experiences with?” (And, by the way this is just what the senior center succeeded in providing)!

After the film, Mr. Loring returned for Q & A. The comment by a 25 year old women in the audience summed up this great event, ” this documentary was real, moving with a message of love for all ages. I am glad I came to the senior center.”

…And so am I. Great job Costa Mesa Senior Center for raising bar!

Does secularism trump church?

August 21, 2016



While on vacation, a podcast of Pastor Molly Baskette’s sermon,  Why I Need Church More than It Needs Me, really grabbed my attention. Here I was having a wonderful time in a spot where everyone is polite and more than that… kind. I was feeling at peace.  Not a church for miles, I figured I didn’t need one. Maybe my heart was full because of the ever-present beauty of mountains, rivers, and forests. I was surrounded by God’s presence. Could it be that nature is where secularism trumps church?  

I found it a whole lot easier to live a clean life, a good life without stress and distractions of the media and commitments in God’s creative space.  How much easier it is to awaken with a calmness without distractions. Unstructured time turned out to be a true blessing. I wasn’t rushing out the door for commitments, facing the morning traffic or having to respond to dozens of messages.

Home, less than 24 hours — and as Sunday approached, I felt a longing in my heart for my church family. What a difference it makes when I have “the full weight and positive inertia of other Christians trying to be better people around me. Church is the scaffolding around the weak structure of my character, ” Pastor Molly’s words resonated.

Former Pastor and peace activist, William Sloane Coffin, Jr., reminds us that the church is a crutch. How can that be?  Because don’t all of us walk with a limp?

I will take that crutch. As a Christian,  I will stretch out my hand to another and say:  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that God may teach us God’s ways and that we may walk in God’s paths.” – Micah 4:2

When Only Pooh Will Do

June 24, 2016


No matter your age, you must admit that there is something magical about Winnie the Pooh stories. “One Special Tree” is no exception. Published in 2010 by Disney, this is a sweet story for one of those lazy summer afternoons. Underneath the shade of your favorite tree, Pooh is certain to take you on another one of his special adventures with his friends. AND, there will be gentle teachable moments every step along the way.

Whether it is the gentle reminder that we must look carefully to notice changes in a special friend,  or that we can always count on our friends to lend a hand,”One Special Tree” offers an opportunity for you and a little one to share the importance of our environment… just one tree at a time.

“I think, therefore I am.”

May 12, 2016
As I was closing up our Little Free Library (“LFL”) for the night,  I noticed that several paperbacks had been recently added to the top shelf. Now, because this is a “take one leave on” library, that is not unusual. However, one particular book, yellowed from age,  caught my attention. The inscription read: Ms. C,  Storey House, Stanford California. The Storey house is an undergraduate resident theme house for Human Biology at Stanford University. That certainly piqued my husband’s interest. For me, it was a typed two-page  letter dated June 1st, 1949  signed Devotedly, Daddy, that prompted me to continue to find out just who is Ms. C.
It took very little time to track down an obituary of the former owner of the book. Ms. C  died in August of last year. From Los Angeles, she spent the last of her years in Newport Beach in a home just around the corner where my husband works. 
She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford in the 1950’s. She was one of three women who graduated in 1959 from law school at Stanford.  After university, Ms. C joined the Foreign Service and served in Germany. Secretary to the Ambassador of Korea, she shared planes and helicopters with quite a few dignitaries. Her obituary reads like a piece out of women’s history, a lady breaking the glass ceiling.  After passing the bar, Ms. C returned to Irvine looking for work in a prestigious law firm. Ultimately she was hired by California Attorney General and then moved to Washing to work as an attorney for the Peace Corps, the Department of Labor and the Smithsonian.
She later married, (C became B) moved to Newport Beach and raised her children. 
The letter from Daddy revealed a funny, sweet side to a man who loved his wife, children and family. The letter most definitely held a special place to  H & J, to whom it was addressed. Was it Ms. B or one of the children who placed the letter in the paperback?

Oh,  the paperback… written by the father of Modern Philosophy, seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician, and  a proponent of rationalism, believing strongly in fact and deductive reasoning: Meditations and Selections from the Principles of Philosophy.Ireyne

Tears of Mary May

March 13, 2016


The screensaver image of these beauties greeted me this morning as I walked past my  computer. They are a bittersweet memory of my youth.

Lilies of the valley surrounded my childhood home. The pure white flowers and the unblemished green leaves marked the arrival of spring with a message that all things beautiful; all things new; all things fragrant are not innocent. The berry of the lily is poisonous, as I was warned time and again.

Grandmother would tell the same story every year during Holy Week. She referred to the flower as Our Lady’s tears; the tears that Mother Mary shed during the crucifixion of our Lord.  Busha (Polish for grandmother) said that  Mary’s tears caused these lilies to bloom. And so it was, year after year we would sit on the porch amidst the sweet smells from the little bells as she would weave a story of a mother’s love. Mary was my sweet grandmother’s name.

The tears of Mary linger in my memory today as I await the month of May.


A World for the Written Word

January 26, 2016

Image       In my imagination, this room is my refuge. Filled with light, shapes and colors, the space integrates functionality with nature and offers a place where comfort and creativity collide.

Poetry’s in Motion this Month

January 26, 2016

Don’t hesitate                                                                                                                                                                                                              Let’s celebrate!
Just you and me
with poetry.
April is that special time
to share a poem or read a rhyme.
~cmash 4/10

Established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is celebrated each April to increase awareness and encourage appreciation of poetry.

This is a time for publishers, booksellers and educators to take advantage of this special opportunity to highlight the diversity of poetry across the country and over the generations.

Looking for ways to join the fun and participate?

Why don’t you sit down and write some poetry that you have longed to do?

You say you’re not that bold; then head over to the library and check out a book or two on poetry.

While you are at your local library, ask the librarian how they are celebrating.

Are they hosting a poetrywriting contest for teenagers?

Will they be having a lecture or poetry reading this month?

If you are up for a little travel, you may wish to visit one of the many American Poetry Landmarks: whether it’s Emily Dickinson’s home in Amherst, Massachusetts or the American Poets Corner at the Cathedral Church of St. John Divine in New York City, New York, you can explore homes, gravesites and cultural centers that offer poetic inspiration in April or anytime.

You might consider the always popular “Adopt-a-Poet” program established to support the care and maintenance of Academy of American Poets. And just who is the AAP? The Academy of American Poets was founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. To Academy administers a wide variety of programs, including National Poetry Month. offers online educational resources and free poetry lesson plans for high school teachers.

Check out the  Academy of American Poets website, for a list of events and activities around the country.

January 26, 2016