To my darling, Lori…

What is my relationship to Lori? Spiritual advisor, landscape designer, friend….meatloaf recipe provider….we have run an idiosyncratic course spanning many years.

I met Lori at a Nicotine Anonymous meeting.  Lori wanted to quit smoking, but could not, and so there she was, quite puzzled by her inability to quit smoking cigarettes.  As she explained her life to me later, Lori did not sit in meetings like this, she ran them…but like me, she could not use her customary bag of trick to overcome her addiction to smoking, and so there she was, attentive and listening.

We began working together on the 12 steps and what occurred for Lori was that her life took on the core of the 12 steps and the orientation of her life became spiritual. Lori’s soul is elitist in the best sense of the concept — her soul recognizes supreme truth, love, beauty and honor, kindness. Yes, Lori quit smoking, but that was not all that she did. She completely changed her life and gravitated to a spiritual existence. Lori soared and she continues to soar like a comet toward the infinite. She is the embodiment of selflessness; she is appreciative. But even more than that, Lori’s spirit sings because of a gratitude, absolute.

Now gratitude is not easy, especially in the struggle she has had to endure. And yet, Lori embraced gratitude with her whole heart and soul. And it spilled over into the world, to everyone she knew. Yes, Lori, even in the darkness threatening to encompass her, can jump onto a hobby horse and ride with great joy and delight, singing songs to the planet. In a difficult day filled with pain, Lori will remember it is your birthday…..

Lori’s ‘little girl’ is one of her most prominent manifestations. I was so fortunate to have been very often in her delightful company. I encountered Lori’s ‘little girl’ the day we rode our bikes against a strong headwind.  Lori, her helmet falling back off of her head, reverted to 6 years of age, racing against the wind, her face set with determination and the willfulness only seen in a six-year-old.  How could one resist falling head over heels in love with this girl with all of her complexities of beauty, intelligence and profundity?

Lori Altschuler is also the embodiment of kindness and acceptance of flaws in other humans. She is the gentlest and the most patient of souls. I know, because she was so patient with me when I had my turn at stumbling….

Time passed.  Lori visited my house one day and saw my garden. She asked me if I would give her some gardening tips. And so our life began in a new direction. Flowers and herbs and fountains and pots and what fun we had together making that garden. Fuschias, alstromeria of all colors of the rainbow, butterfly bushes, roses on arbors and tendrils of blue clematis on her picket fence.

Lori fence clematis

Lori loved and loves her garden with all of her heart. And Lori’s little girl was always most present in the garden with her green plastic clogs, her immaculate garden gloves and her clippers. She would attack any plant daring to go wayward with a great and childlike conviction!!!

When I learned of Lori’s cancer, I immediately went into prayer and meditation.  One day, a very powerful and booming energy arose.  I heard the words clear as day.  I will never forget them.  “She will have a very difficult time, but she will not die from this.”  This occurred almost a decade ago. And thus far, the road has been very difficult, and so far she is still here with us.  I still await the miracle promised.

cropped Lori in garden

In the meanwhile in spite of chemo, in spite of operations, never has Lori been absent with her overwhelming generosity. Everyone knows this about this dear girl.  Yes, I too have been showered with so many beautiful things and so many blessings from her, but oh how she supports those endeavors most important to me. At my first book signing, to support me, she hostessed the refreshment table, greeting and welcoming everyone with her beautiful smile. She was not only there at my second book signing, but helped me to publish the book with her understanding and supportive heart.

And did I mention her cooking? And her flower arranging? Delectable and scrumptious on all counts. She is accomplished in all of the arts. And she is successful on all fronts.

But Lori Altschuler is most knowledgeable in the profound and integrative meanings of life, of illness and yes, even of death. I adore and cherish Lori…much love from Laura


Poem 12/11/2015

In blue

I search for Lori
For Stella
And Mom, Dad and Pat
Where the heck is Bill?

Such tangibles of personality and being
With their dreams and jobs
But now adrift like the clouds

They are ensconced within star and dust
In an enternity of infinity

OK, meanwhile
Malignancies at Solyluna
Manifest not
They are not allowed

And I dare not really speak of it.


A Poem of Reminding on Natalie’s Birthday


I call upon curanderas and their sorcery
To summon the forces of the universe
Into rays of light to pierce a chaos of cells
Your love of the world and its magic
As exquisite coups in the glitterance
Of Galanos
Of Emilio Pucci,
  natalie tirrell with Pucci
Ah, yes, you once so revered on the runways
Of Europe and the world
There were not enough of you
Voila!  Natalie mannequins to showcase
Such perfection, such acclaimed style,
An integration of elegance and allure
Natalie Tirrell color
How difficult, how puny it must seem
To now turn your reverence to self
No longer awhirl in designer silks or satins
But alone, unapplauded, banal….
But within that familiar stance and twirl,
A pause,
For turn you must
It is time
To woo your love of your most true self
So that ‘she’ knows it is now safe
For ‘her’ body to respond
To a vibrancy of health and energy
For you know, dear Natalie,
Goddess of sandals,
The body does not live for high heels,
To embellish those most splendid of gowns
But indeed the body lives to heal
The body loves to heal.

All is perfect, complete, whole
In this universe, your universe
As you sift the dust for your new calling
That gift you will offer to the world
The essence wedded to spirit

Happy birth day of your dear soul
And for your sweet and earnest heart
It is time for the ruptures in your breasts
To be healed
For evermore and always
So that you can get on
With your quintessential tasks…

I love you.


In Tribute to My Mother


I am a baby,
lying in a softness created by my mother
in a new world so much more open than the
womb in which I grew

And I suddenly see the magical, wondering
and lovely eyes of my mother who regards me
with warmth and concern

And she touches me quietly
And sings a lovely lullaby about the sea
turtles and mermaids and suns that dance
to the moon and her night spirits

And she brushes my cheek with a sun
warmed rose to tell me of future treasures
and moments I will find myself one day
on the planet

And she brings me a large conch shell to
hear the sea speak — so that when I ride
my first sea horse on waves, I will not
be afraid

                 Besides, she will be with me – for she is my home and
                         my shelter – she is my food and my life – she is
earth’s enchantress.

And she hangs crystals in window light
So I will be guarded by rainbows

Now the faeries and hummingbirds will know that I am
born – and that my soul lives here upon the planet.


For Deborah…

You are a rare vintage of wisdoms
That mirror back to me my own shine
Even when I have forgotten
And gotten lost in the doldrums
Of mediocrity dreaded
But too often inhabited by an artist
Yesterday, you reminded me
Though in great personal pain
(Because you are generous like that)
You reminded me once again
Others may try,
But your particular prism
Renders observances so deep, so profound
So simple and plain
Who can dispute such Truths
You who are so very precious to me
A treasure the universe has delivered
My heart beckons wide to include you
So that my soul can revel
At your marvelous existence and your words
I adore you…..
Thank you…..
Once again
How fortunate and blessed we are to have found one another….

Claudia’s Cabuya

Costa Rican Wild Woman 

claudia on horse

Mythology evoked
By Claudia astride a Black Horse
Both aglisten with their strengths
Sinew and tendon
A match of equality
And hence a melding

Her three dogs her companions
And sentinels always

Down the beach
A fury of gallop
Deep caverns of hoof print
In the coarse sand

Claudia lives in a house of talismans
And symbology
With artistry in construct
Of illuminations
From objects of the forest
And those found at the edge of the sea
To render a witch spell of nature
Within and With-on

This is a Wildness of Woman
Who paddles in search of Sea Turtles
Arising from depths

Night fires are stoked
For cooking

Friends have gathered
For laughter and singing.


My Guardian of the Night

my guardian

 I have a guardian who watches over me
Through the dark of
Each and every night
He stands right next to my bed….

You can’t tell from this picture,
But he is over fifty feet tall
No one messes with him
You can see how fierce he is
He’s also wild,

 I caught him this one morning
As he gazed upon cosmic sprites
Intrigued because
Unlike everyone else,
They weren’t afraid of him
And came dancing right up to him
Of course, they are
Not visible to most people
My guardian doesn’t really believe in them,
But he is mesmerized
And mystified….By their presence
In spite of himself


A Poem about the Door in the Ceiling

A Poem for my Father…..


Dad was dying
I went back for his 86th Birth Day

With CDs of home movies
Copies of 8mm films
Dad had recorded of our life
From the time
When his biggest hopes and dreams were confirmed
Confirmed of his life with us as his Family

Everyone was in it
Mom, us kids, his mother and father, our cousins
Our aunts and uncles, the cats and dogs
Our grandparents and great grandparents
Everyone was smiling on that celluloid
In spite of rancor gradually
Accumulating like dust silently settles on a table
secret from the camera

I brought the CD’s because I wanted my father to remember
The faceted life he had lived when he was a young hero
When he was scuba diving under the ice
Or sailing in the Caribbean
When he was a Father and Husband, a Son and a Grandson
When he had not succumbed to a wheelchair as a finale
With permanent tubes of oxygen
And no longer even able to wipe his own ass after shitting

I waited for one of his quiet days
A day of no pain
Before setting up the computer with the CD’s.
To operate the gizmos, I had to stand behind him
I could not see his face
Dad said nothing; he just looked
I pointed
“There’s Sandra! And Look! Aunt Eldora!”
But Dad said nothing, but just looked
Had he fallen asleep?
I began to think my attempts of reclamation
Of past lives, futile and silly.

But that night, as I turned at the door
To wish him a good night,

Dad said his signature
“Now you be a good girl”
And looked at me with
A gratitude unmistakable

It was the next day was when it all began
Dad declared he was going home
His arms emphasized his intention,
Lifting his skeletal frame
Up in his wheelchair
As if he was ready to just walk away
From his reality
But his muscles so weak curtailed the rebellion
And my father slunk back into his wheelchair

Though his mind was still imbued
With humor and wisdom
“What day is it”, he asked me
“January 13th,” I said
“Show me on the calendar, will you?”
I stood and gestured to the date on the wall calendar
“I will go home tomorrow”, he said.

He scratched at his hand like a monkey
And regarded the ceiling fixedly.
I followed his gaze to know his interest
It was a lone brass sprinkler head in white plaster
But Dad still stared
And then began talking fast to the ceiling
A garbled communication animated,
Excited, happy
Pointing his left index finger at the sky

I could not understand him.
Though someone seemed to……
And then, Dad clearly said,
“I’ll do that after school”
Now my Father was eighty-six years old
And talking to someone he knew
More gabble, more pointing
“Mrs. Roy Schubert Junior”? he asked,
(That was my Mother’s married name
The name he gave her when they married)
“Nah, she’s dead,” he answered
The unseen examiner.

No opiates, no delusions, no fog
But more conversation with the sprinkler head
Then Dad turned to me
He looked at me fixedly for a few moments
To be sure that I understood he was talking to me
And explained

“There’s a door in the ceiling, but you can’t see it”

And then he went back happily
For more conversation in another world
With those who had come to visit him
With those who obviously loved him.

My Father had been right, you see
He was on his way home
But he got the date wrong
He died a week later,

Postponing his departure

In hopes that he would live to see his sonman looking at night sky


A Celebration of My Mother

Here is a poem for Mother’s Day or for a new Mother. I usually
give a conch shell with
the poem to make the gift
especially special. Whenever I have given this gift, especially
to a new mother, she is always very moved, often
to tears.

Baby Poem cropped

 My beautiful mother
and me!

My Mother and me cropped