Miriam’s Well will be on break Wednesday Nov 24 until Wed Dec 1–in honor of both Thanksgiving and the end of the semester!
This is a good time to thank you all–readers, commenters, contributors. Also, to remind you that the Well is ALWAYS looking for submissions–haiku, flash fiction, and prose and poetry on our themes. Also–images, ideas, and musings. And even guest bloggers who like to write on a variety of subjects. Keep mein your loop!
Have a good holiday!

Little People in the City by Slinkachu

I’ve come across the most amazing artist, who puts tiny figures in narrative urban settings. The book is from Boxtree, 2008. Website is–http://little-people.blogspot.com/

These tiny installations or sculptures make me want to write a poem…but then I realize they are already poems.

This work is included in Street Arts, at 516 Gallery in Albuquerque.

Muffy McPherson by Ariel Gore

Muffy McPherson
Muffy McPherson lives across the street. Her house has two stories and a swimming pool in the back yard.
Muffy McPherson has a pink canopy over her bed and a Barbie Dream House under her bedroom window.
In her back yard, behind the pool, Muffy McPherson has a big red playhouse with a Barbie oven in it. We wear red-and-white-checked aprons and we pretend to make chocolate chip cookies. When we’re done we go inside and Muffy McPherson’s mother has made us real chocolate chip cookies that cool on a tray on an island in the middle of the kitchen. That’s what it’s called when you have a counter in the middle of your kitchen that you can walk all the way around—an island.
Muffy McPherson doesn’t come over to my house to play and I’m glad—my mother wouldn’t make us cookies and if my stepdad did, they’d have carob chips that he bought in bulk from the Briarpatch co-op market and then he might take out his teeth.
Muffy McPherson’s mother wears a lavender leisure suit and she uses real chocolate and she never takes out her teeth. Muffy’s father goes to work in the morning and doesn’t come home until dinnertime. He’s important because he invented something called “collagen implants” that makes skinny people fat in the just right places.
Muffy McPherson is in love with Harrison Ford.
It’s not a crush. It’s true love.
“I’m going to marry him,” she says. And she dances across her pink-canopied bed, swishing her straight blonde hair back and forth.
My hair is dark and curly and I know there’s not much I can do about it, but I think maybe if I had a pink canopy over my bed, I wouldn’t feel so scared all the time.
“I have a poster of Harrison Ford,” I tell Muffy.
“You do?” She stops moving, stares at me.
“Yeah,” I say. “You can have it.” I shrug, cool as I know how.
She nods real slow and I can’t believe I actually have something Muffy McPherson wants. It makes me feel calm and powerful at the same time, like maybe we’re not so different, Muffy and me. Like maybe even with my hair, I can be one of the pretty people when we go back to school in September.
The next day I come back with my poster of Harrison Ford, rolled up all nice. It’s not actually my poster, I stole it from Leslie, stole it right off her wall, but I’ve already practiced my denial, practiced the blank look on my face when I’ll claim I don’t know what happened to the poster.
Muffy McPherson’s mother answers the door and calls upstairs to Muffy. I bound up those soft stairs, close the door to Muffy’s room behind me and begin to unfurl the poster.
Muffy McPherson’s face is all thrill at first, but then she frowns. “That’s not Harrison Ford,” she scowls, then squints her eyes at the picture. “That’s. Some. Old Man!”

“It isn’t?” I look at it. Harrison Ford. The guy who’s Doctor Doolittle in the movie.

Muffy McPherson clenches her teeth and crosses her arms and shakes her head, her hair swishing a little. “That’s Rex Harrison. It says so right there.” She points her thin finger to the signature at the bottom corner of the poster. “REX Harrison,” she says again. “Are you stupid? Do you know even know who Harrison Ford is?”

I look at the poster, at Rex Harrison with his side burns and sly smile, and then at Muffy McPherson with her long blonde hair and stern look. I roll up the poster. I glance at the Barbie Dream House behind Muffy and I already miss playing with the Ken doll. I swallow hard. I say, “Yeah, I know who Harrison Ford is. I just. I was only kidding.” And I feel something in the back of my throat that’s hot and sore, like a coal from the campfire that got stuck there. And I don’t know who Harrison Ford is.

I don’t know who Harrison Ford is.


I had a nice time in Nob Hill yesterday–a breezy still autumnal day in Albuquerque. Went to Papers (which has moved, but just a few storefronts down) for my annual notebook buying spree. I love notebooks–the only supplies needed by me as a writer. I need big ones, little ones for my purse, blank ones, lined ones. I need a new one for every project, every journey. They make me happy.
Then to my favorite gallery in the city–Mariposa Gallery (www.mariposa-gallery.com). I visited my favorite haute couture collection–miniature dresses made of metal and what looks like recycled bits–how chic!
Here is a description of the artist:

“Marcia Sednek is best known for her ability to transform found objects into fetching miniature dress sculptures. Using recycled materials like antique cookie tins, old baking pans or even a rusty cheese grader, Sednek forms each dress into a one -of -a -kind piece of art.

For personal adornment, Marcia cuts, twists and bends the same innovative materials into whimsical miniature purse & flower pins. The youngest of sixteen children, Marcia lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

I wonder if being the youngest meant hand-me-down-dolls…

Also at Mariposa–a shadowbox by Karan Sipe–with an old fashioned ceramic doll dressed in a map, globe and airplane dangling (Yes, I bought it).

And some beautiful small new paintings by April Park, with dreamy houses, little ducks and creatures, Klee-esque. I loved the one inscribed with the phrase–“wish you were here.”

Flash Flood: Community Art Action

I was excited to learn about the following environmental art project:

What: FLASH FLOOD Community Art Action
Where: The dry bed of the Santa Fe River
When: Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dozens of community institutions and activists are gearing up for a series of workshops and events in advance of the November 20, 2010 “FLASH FLOOD for a Living River.” The Santa Fe Art Institute, in coordination with Bill McKibben’s 350.org, an international campaign dedicated to building a movement in response to the global threats of climate change, is spearheading the New Mexico project, which is one of five U.S. sites out of 20 global locations. 3,000 community members will carry and flip blue-painted recycled cardboard to compose the FLASH FLOOD in the dry bed of the Santa Fe River, which has been designated as one of America’s most endangered rivers. The art action and aerial design will be visible and documented from outer space via satellite. The FLASH FLOOD will be projected worldwide alongside the 19 other global aerial designs as part of the Cancun Climate Change Summit, November 29 – December 10, 2010.

The large coalition of community institutions forming around the FLASH FLOOD project include:

Casa Allegre
City of Santa Fe
DeVargas Middle School
Earth Care International
Earth Guardians
EarthWorks Institute
Frenchy’s Field and Commons community groups
Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)
New Energy Economy
New Mexico Arts Commission
Salazar Elementary School
Santa Fe Arts Commission
Santa Fe Community College
Santa Fe Parks Commission
Santa Fe River Commission
Santa Fe Watershed Association
Santa Fe University of Art and Design
State of New Mexico
Youth Works
and more!
Information from the Santa Fe Art Institute Blog–http://sfaiblog.org/2010/10/19/flash-flood/
Although unfortunately I couldn’t be there, I was lucky enough to find Margo Conover’s photographs, taken today. Thank you, Margo!

Libby Hall’s Ratatouille (Excellent for Writers on a Cold Fall Day)


E – Z – P – O – T  (eggplant – zucchini – peppers – onion – tomatoes)

Here’s how to make a hearty ratatouille.  I like heavily seasoned foods so you might prefer less spices.  For variety, you can add more or less of certain veggies or add  in curry paste, or chicken or pork.

1 eggplant  –  slice into chunks
5-8 zucchini (3 yellow crookneck and 3 zucchini) slice (as thin or thick as you like) 
Garlic – chopped  (as much as you can stand)
1 large onion – chopped
4 cups of sliced red, green yellow peppers     (Trader Joe’s “Melange a Trois” frozen peppers  — I use 2 bags)
EVOO  (about 1/4 in. in pan)
1 T. oregano
3 T. Cardamon powder  (sold in bulk herbs @ Vit. Cottage)
2 – 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes 
Salt to taste

Add  EVOO to large pot—med. heat
Add chopped onion, do not brown  — saute until clear
Add eggplant and zucchini  — stir it in
Add peppers and garlic   –  mix it up again
Add oregano, cardamon powder and salt (to taste) 
Add contents of 2 = 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
 Simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes.   Makes 16  –  one cup servings. 

GOOD NEWS…this dish can be prepared in 20 mins.;  simmers for an additional 30-40 minutes…AND……it freezes well.

Leaving Home: Essay by Pat Shapiro

By Patricia Gottlieb Shapiro
When my children left home and I no longer had to watch the clock or follow a school calendar, I yearned to travel beyond my narrow, upper-middle-class, suburban existence. I didn’t know where I’d go; I just knew that I wanted to experience exotic places in faraway time zones. Then, in 2005, a letter arrived from a first cousin in Samara, in southern Russia. Until that moment, I didn’t know that Anna Gotlib existed.

Anna wrote that she had been searching for cousins in America since her father’s death in 1974. While preparing to move to a new flat, she discovered old correspondence from my father, who died in 1979. She had decided to make one final effort to reach us. 
I’d be happy to discover new relatives at any time, but this communication came at a particularly poignant one for me. My daughter Margo was pregnant with my first grandchild, and I was beginning to contemplate anew how we pour so much into our children’s lives only to watch them leave—a necessary departure but often painful nonetheless.

I looked forward to sharing our family traditions: seeing the reflection of Chanukah candles in my young grandchild’s eyes, and making bunny pancakes for the next generation. But as thrilled as I was that our family was expanding (my son Andrew would have a son six months later), it made me sad to know that my grandchildren would never hear my father’s thick Russian accent, or listen to my mother sing “Happy Birthday” to them off-key. Somehow, discovering a first cousin who lived on the other side of the globe seemed to balance the equation. So after a two-year email correspondence, my sister and I set off for Samara to meet her.

Before I left, I wondered how much we’d have in common. From our emails, it seemed like a lot. I’d learned that we were both professional women “of a certain age,” as they say. She was a sociology professor; I was a social worker who’d gone on to write about midlife women’s issues. Each of us had been married for close to 40 years. We both had a grown son and daughter, and two grandchildren. 

We lived parallel lives in so many ways, yet I was curious about something that was harder to get at. In the United States, women’s lives change dramatically after their children leave home. Was this transition, which is so pivotal for American women, even an issue in Russia?

At 5 a.m. on a Saturday in July, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, we rushed through customs and searched for Anna’s face on the other side. We spotted her pushing through the pack, her arms filled with yellow mums. She had short auburn hair, dark almond eyes, and a broad smile on a heart-shaped face much like my sister’s and mine. 
We embraced long and hard, took a step back to study each other, and then hugged again, somewhat dazed to actually be standing together.

After a short rest in our hotel, my sister and I approached a four-story, cinder-block building covered in graffiti. Two flights of dark, dank steps led to Anna’s apartment. Still wearing the three-inch heels she greeted us in at the airport, Anna welcomed us with another big hug. 

“Come, come.” Her skin glistened with a thin layer of sweat as she scurried around the 1,000-square-foot apartment bringing steaming dishes to the table. Anna’s 37-year-old son sat with his wife on the sofa, chatting with his 28-year-old sister and her husband. The younger couple’s 18-month-old boy streaked through the flat.

How easy it was for the whole family to get together! They all lived within 30 minutes of each other. Like most Russian children, Anna’s son and daughter had lived at home until they married. They went to college in Samara, met their mates, and settled there. Anna’s daughter was now back in her mother and father’s home along with her family, as they waited for their own flat to be built. The empty nest was something Anna had never experienced.

With my children, it had been so different. Andrew, who craved excitement, headed to the Big Apple. Margo, a rebellious spirit, wanted to go as far from Philadelphia as possible. She attended college in Washington state, then lived in Hawaii and spent time in India. 
When they left home—within a year of each other—I felt an enormous void. I threw myself into my work, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the emptiness I felt. Only when I interviewed other women and wrote a book about this transitional period did I understand that I was going through a very normal process. It varies from one woman to another, but those of us who have “unfinished business” with our children tend to hold on longer. Only after resolving those issues can we let go and move on.

As I walked into the kitchen and found Anna filling platters, dashing between the stove and the table, I realized that I had something Anna didn’t: the freedom that comes after accepting this loss. In our culture, we believe it’s necessary for children to separate to become independent. In hers, that independence didn’t seem to be prized in the same way. Family members tended to live close by, and pitched in to help each other get by.

The language barrier made discussing this difficult, but Anna did share one thought. “Russian women have a hard time when their children leave home too,” she told me. “But most Russian women always work very much to survive. That’s how they overcome their pain and loneliness.”

American women, on the other hand, seem more apt to experience what Margaret Mead called “postmenopausal zest,” that creativity and energy that’s released when we no longer need to care for our children. In my case, I deepened my passion for yoga by studying to become a teacher, and began writing in a more personal way. Answering the call of a fervent dream, my husband and I moved to Santa Fe. And postmenopausal zest is not exclusive to women with children. For those without, just knowing the childbearing years are past can free them to come into their own and find their passion, like the woman I interviewed who for years yearned to sail and finally bought herself a boat.

But how do women who have not separated from their children experience postmenopausal zest? Does it come in a different form, or is it completely irrelevant? Maybe the joy of living with a grandchild trumps the tension of three generations under one roof.

Anna didn’t seem to suffer from the fact that her life had not changed in any significant way in years. Even with her grown daughter’s family living in the flat, she continued to do all the cooking, despite working full-time as a professor. How different the situation was when Margo and her family moved in with us last fall while they remodeled their house, after I returned from Russia. She and I took turns cooking, and they did their own laundry. We respected each other’s closed doors. 

When I let go, a space was created for something else to happen. Margo was liberated to become her own woman and live on her own terms. Then she was free to come back or not. The choice was hers. We now live 15 minutes from each other.

Sitting down to my first meal in Russia—a feast of caviar on white bread rounds, platters of luncheon meats and cheeses, baked cauliflower, potato and chicken salad, and the requisite vodka—I couldn’t help but think about the heritage Anna and I share. How did our grandmother, whom neither of us knew, feel when she had to say goodbye to four of her six children within 10 years—two bound for the U.S. and two to Russia? My father, who couldn’t attend school because of quotas on Jews, and yet dreamed of sending his own children to college, immigrated to the United States at 24 and never saw his parents again. Anna’s father became a Communist at 18 and moved to Moscow to be at the center of the action. Did our grandmother cry for days, immerse herself in work on their grain farm, or stoically believe that these moves were for the best? 

After lunch, Anna slipped her arm through mine and guided me to her balcony, suggesting that get a break from the heat. The space was just wide enough to hold three folding chairs. We sat about two feet from the neighbors’ flat. The aroma of cabbage mingled with the humid air. I closed my eyes and drifted off—transported back to the small town in Lithuania where our fathers grew up. Two brothers are raised in the same home; one goes east and one goes west. In their wildest dreams, could they ever have imagined that their daughters, living 8,000 miles apart, would live such parallel lives, and one day meet face to face?

I hadn’t imagined that my quest to broaden my perspective after my children left would lead me so far from home, only to end in the discovery that what matters most to me is my bond to my own family. Would I appreciate them in the same way if I hadn’t traveled half way around the globe? Would my daughter have come back if she hadn’t left? Must we all leave home to come home? 

The essay first appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette in the Nov/Dec 2008 issue. Pat Shapiro is an author and yoga teacher who lives in Santa Fe. She specializes in writing and speaking on women’s issues.

Classes with Ariel Gore

Santa Fe Weekend Intensive

Weekend Writing Intensive with Ariel Gore

December 17 – 20 in Santa Fe

Jump-start your writing life, get feedback on stories you’ve been working on, breathe new energy into a project, or just explore the possibilities. This weekend intensive is appropriate for new and seasoned writers interested in fashioning stories from real life. Writers will receive an assignment via email one week before the workshop begins. We’ll spend these inspiring days workshopping stories and generating new material.

Meets in Second Street Studios (1807 Second St., Santa Fe, #32)
Register now! — 5 SPOTS LEFT

8-Week Santa Fe Writing Workshop

Meets Saturday mornings 10 am – noon, January 15 – March 5
Taught by Ariel Gore

The language of your life: Find your voice as a writer, get to work on new stories, expand and explore. Especially suited for those working in memoir and memoir-based storytelling. This supportive and inspiring group is appropriate for writers at all levels.

8 Weeks $230

A $70 deposit holds your spot. The remaining $160 is due at the first meeting.

Class size is limited, so please sign up early.

Meets in the workshop space at Seven Sisters

1807 Second St. #32, Santa Fe

New Online Class Starts In January, 2011

A new session of Lit Star Training, the online writing workshop, starts January 8th. The session runs 8 weeks — January 8 – March 5 — and costs the usual $275.

A $90 deposit saves your spot (register early, because it often fills up – UPDATE: ONLY 5 SPOTS LEFT):
TO REGISTER: http://arielgore.com
Or email–arielgore@earthlink.net