Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 12

A reply to: A letter from Dove


Dear INWk,

Congratulations to you and Maki on your engagement and marriage! A festival wedding. How romantic! When I think of the story of how the two of you met and re-found each other, it seems that only the most romantic wedding would do!

I will do everything I can to attend your commemorative ceremony next year! I’m already blocking out the entire month so I can remember: keep the schedule simple–be flexible!

Oh, Dove! I have been SO busy! I am sure that it is no surprise to you. As a scientist who’s passionate about her work, involved with raising two kids, and a loving partner to a beautiful wife, I’m sure you know busy!

I have just met busy. And let me tell you, busy is busy!


But also, busy is very fun and oh-so-rewarding. I’m sure you know this, as well. How did that award go? Are you the new Pioneer of New Technologies? Whether that’s your official title or not, I know you are a true pioneer!

School is more than I ever though it would be: More engaging; more rewarding; more demanding; and more valuable.

INWk, I really feel that I’ve found my calling–or at least my passion! All I want to do now is study and learn more–and I want to learn it all instantly!


Our program is based in the work on trauma led by Peter A. Levine and described so effectively in his book In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.

In its most simple distillation, his theory is this: trauma is defined “as an event that causes a long-term dysregulation in the autonomic and core extrapyramidal nervous system” (Payne, Levine, and Crane-Godreau, Somatic experiencing); or, to put it in terms I can understand better, trauma occurs when one’s protective responses (fight, flight, or freeze) don’t have the chance to complete their cycle and become somehow “stuck” or “out-of-sync.”

With this basic physical understanding of a process that is felt and experienced mentally and emotionally, we find a way out: through the wisdom of the body.

Most of the work of our program is designed on following a recursive pattern through re-regulating the body’s response.


The part that Micah and I are currently engaged in, the music and art therapy, fits into the final stage of social engagement. Micah and I also both notice that, with both the refugees and the individuals at HoH, the activities in music and art therapy provide a very real sense of agency for the participants which reactivates self-esteem in a vital manner.

In order to be able to be effective at what we do, the program trains us in all the levels of Somatic Experiencing–and here’s where I get so excited and want to learn everything all at once!


Does that ever happen to you?

There is so much to learn! I get so impatient sometimes–and then it’s easy to despair because I know I’ll never know everything there is to know–and sometimes, I just can’t bear that thought! Have you felt that way?

My uncle Jasper tells me when I feel like that, that I would have been happy living in Ancient Greece.


“In Aristotle’s day,” he loves to say, “one could know everything there was to know. All of human constructed knowledge could be learned by a single individual. Aristotle knew it all. And so did his best students.”

He assures me that I could easily learn all that Aristotle’s best students knew, too–in fact, I probably already do. But knowledge has marched on, and what his students knew doesn’t even fill a thimble now.


Now, there’s so much to learn that we specialize, and I fear sometimes that even in my area of specialization, I won’t be able to learn even enough to be a helpful or useful therapist!

When I get like that, my mentor in the program tells me to relax. She reminds me that life is long, and I am not even 30 yet, and the best therapists are in their fifties, at the youngest. We are encouraged to adopt a life-long learning approach, which suits me fine and helps me to relax a bit.


How are your children doing? Are they regular city kids? What are they most interested in?

And how is Maki?

We are all doing well. My friend Mizuki has moved in. She’s also going back to school! She and Youssef, our nanny, are a sometimes thing–that is, she is romantically interested in him, and he sometimes returns the interest, and when neither is too busy and there aren’t too many of the rest of us around, they might sometimes exchange a flirt or a kiss, but never anything more! Or so Mizuki bemoans to me.


But if anyone is worth waiting for, Youssef is, for he is loveliness itself! And even if he and Mizuki remain very good friends, I will attest that he is a friend worth having.

Jena is doing so well. She loves that now she has three adults doting on her.


As much as possible, I try to do my studies while she’s asleep or at the library when she’s with Youssef, but honestly, as long as Mizuki and Youssef are around, I don’t think she even cares if my head is in a book!


I’m so happy I can share all my enthusiasms with you, dear INWk! And I hope that you will reciprocate in your next letter!

All my love to you, Maki, and your littlies!


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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 11

 A reply to: A letter from Dove


Dear INWk,

Thank you for agreeing to be part of my support system! It means so much to me.

I hope that I can reciprocate. I’m not always sure that I have the skills that make a good support person. I’m discovering that I tend to approach life through analysis, analogy, metaphor, synthesis, and pattern-discovery, rather than necessarily feeling my way through life.

I guess I’m a thinker. I never actually realized that! I always feel so deeply on the inside that I assumed I was an emotional person. But the more I work with and interact with others, the more I discover that I am a thinking person. If someone who thinks her way through life can be a useful member of your support team, then I’d love to be on it!

I do think that I might be developing new skills, though–skills with feelings and emotions!

You see–this is so exciting that I get chills as I write this–I’m going back to school! I’m going to get my master’s in art therapy. Actually, my specific focus will be integrating folklore, art therapy, counseling, and trauma studies so that I can work more effectively with those who have experienced domestic violence and with refugees.

At first, I felt it was just being indulgent to even consider going back to school: I mean, I already have a PhD in folklore. But the PhD was entirely for me: it was my passion, and I knew all along that, since I’m not required financially to get a job, I’d work as a freelance scholar in folklore. And I tried telling myself that this was enough–it was misusing my privilege to get more education, especially now that I’m a mom.

But I kept thinking about trauma, resilience, and healing. I find this path of study fascinating–it seems to touch everything: everyone I know, everything I’ve experienced and witnessed, all of human life, especially in these challenging times.

Then, Micah–she’s my uncle’s organ teacher. I think I mentioned her to you in my last letter, and I was saying how, since she was in the group I led through HoH, she couldn’t be on my support team, but guess what? She and I are now leading a workshop together through HoH, which means we can be friends and on each other’s support teams! I’m so excited! Anyway, Micah told me she was going back to school.

“I want to study music therapy,” she said. “There’s all this exciting work being done on the spikes in the Schumann resonance, music, and the promotion of the brain’s capacity to heal from trauma!”


She said I should look into the program, and when I did, I found the art therapy path, which seems like it is tailor-made. In a way it is, because University of Windenburg is set up to allow students and professors to create their own paths of study.

Anyway, HoH received a grant to incorporate music, art, and folklore therapy, and so now that Micah and I will be enrolled in degree programs, we can receive grant-funding for the work we do. I’ve talked with the refugee program coordinator, too, to see if they might apply for the same grant so we can also do work there.

It’s such a good thing that my support system is growing! I’ve been reading that counselors really should get their support in place first, before diving into the work.

Do you remember me writing about the repair person who came to fix my stereo? Mizuki Suzuki has become a great friend. She drops by often. We always wind up talking for hours before we even realize that we haven’t even moved out of the foyer!


My brother likes her, too. Of course my brother is in a place right now where he likes everyone and everything. Things are going so well for him and Ira and Ira’s daughter, Aaradhya, that he can’t stop smiling. It’s like a lifetime of smiles are finding their expression on his face.


With school starting up for me next month, I decided it was time to add another person to our support system: A nanny.

The nanny referral group sent Youssef over to meet us. At first, Jena wasn’t sure what to think. He has a big gray Afro, and I think he reminded her of a scary clown we’d seen in the city.


He suggested that I give them a trial run for half-an-hour, and then we could talk about how it went and decide if we felt we would be good matches for each other.

I headed off to the library to pick up a few journals that I’d ordered, leaving him and Jena at home together.


When I returned, Youssef and Jena were playing, and she looked delighted! He’s her new best friend.


We decided we’re a perfect match! He’s starting right away, and he’ll come by on the same days that I’ll be having my classes. Sometimes, I’ll stay home while he’s here, and sometimes, I’ll head out to do errands or lead my groups at HoH or visit with Mizuki and Micah.

He says that by having Jena get used to the schedule of his visits now, it will make the transition smoother when I return to school. And we’ve agreed that once I’m in school, he’ll come by every day, so that even when I don’t have class, he’ll be here when I need to study.

Oh, dear. This whole letter’s been about me again. See what I mean about my not having the skills yet to be a good support person?

I think I can learn them, though.


I’m so fascinated by the thought forums you mentioned in your letter. Tell me more!

I’m also really interested in the exchange of emotions that you experience. I’ve read that this is part of Buddhist psychotherapy, also, and it’s something I hope to learn more about. I’m interested in everything you have to share!

Your girls sound so wonderful! Imagine the resilience and creativity they’re able to develop through having the city neighborhoods as their playgrounds!

Thank you for the advice on picking up Taste of Diet! I was wondering why my skirts were starting to feel a little tight after eating Weight of the World.

I hope that your current research projects are also bringing a sense of discovery and accomplishment, and I’d love to hear anything you can share!

My brother is making big changes to the family business, but that’s something I’ll have to save for another letter. It’s getting late already, and I’ve got the house to clean and laundry to fold before heading off to bed!

Jena wanted to eat a picnic supper in her bed, so I’m expecting to have some crumbs to clean off her blankets before tucking her in.


I feel like we’re both so lucky, INWk. You, me–and our families, too! And look at all the good things you’re doing with your good fortune. I want to use mine to help others, too.

All the best to you and yours! Thank you more than you can know for letting me share my enthusiasms with you!

Lots of love,


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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 10

Author’s note: I accidentally published this before I added any words! Sorry! For those of you who saw it without words, I hope you enjoy it more with them!

A reply to: A letter from Dove


Dearest INWk,

How lovely your children are! They look full of delight! Do they keep you busier now that they’re bigger and more independent? I would imagine that all that curiosity and energy keeps you on your toes!

I was saddened to hear that your people also have domestic violence. When I first considered it, I felt that, being telepathic, the suffering from domestic violence with your people would be less. But then, the more I thought about it, I began to see that telepathy (and are you also empathic?) would not necessarily prevent the suffering. What I realized was that if we knew what others were thinking about us–especially their harmful thoughts–then we might feel even more hurt.

Is there such a thing as “privacy of the mind” among telepathic people?

Recently, I’ve been examining my support system. Or, maybe more accurately, I’ve been realizing that I don’t have much of a support system, and it’s time for me to build one!


Of course the subject came up through my volunteer work with House of Hope. In fact, we had a seminar for the staff (including me), along with employees of other local service agencies, like the refugee center that brought Jena here. The seminar’s title was “Support2“, and it was about the need for support-givers to have sound support systems.

We were given a worksheet. On it, was a starting list of qualities we would look for in members of our support system.

Here’s the list:

1) The ability to listen for the duration of my need to ventilate or communicate something without changing the focus onto themselves.

  2) The ability to then share regarding the given topic from their own personal history and/or perspective.

3) The ability to help me understand the situation from a different perspective, through systems-thinking, reframing, or providing new insights and understandings.

  4) The ability to voice at the start if they are unable or unwilling, for whatever reason, to give me the time that I need.

  5) The ability to inform me if the content of the conversation is harming them. This shows me that they are taking care of themselves and frees me from that responsibility.

  6) The ability to share what is bothering them AFTER I have finished. Not changing the focus of the conversation from me (if I initiated contact) until it was completed.

  7) The ability to comprehend what I am saying. Even if they don’t fully comprehend, are they at least trying to understand what I am saying or feeling?

  8) The ability to repeat to me what I am saying to help me clarify my comprehension and communication abilities.

  9) The ability to respect my right to refuse their venting on me if I am unable to cope with it.

  10) The ability to respect my privacy in regards to my property, body, and mind.

  11) The ability to not violate my space, body, or mind. This incorporates not touching unless gaining my permission, not telling me what I should do or how I should feel, or that what I am saying, doing or feeling is wrong in any way. It also incorporates not trying to make me adopt their point of view.

  12) The ability to encourage me to choose of my own free will what to do and to help me explore and discover the various choices available to me, even the negative ones. Not trying to fix things for me or run my life for me.

  13) The ability to accept and encourage my participation in activities without them and with other people.

  14) The ability to accept not being told everything and not being my only support person.

(from Building a Support System at SoulSelfHelp)

We were encouraged to modify, add to, delete, or edit this list in any way we wanted, so that it fit us. I added #3 to the list. Surprisingly, thought the list was created for survivors of abuse, I found that it fit me amazingly well. When I mentioned this to the woman leading the seminar, she looked at me carefully.

“Well, you’re highly sensitive,” she said at last. “We’ve found that HSPs (Highly Sensitive People) have very similar needs to survivors. It’s because the world is so harsh, my dear, so if you’re picking up so much stimulus, you need to take extra measures to protect your own privacy and autonomy.”

INWk, that statement floored me! It’s so accurate! I’ve always wondered why it was that I needed all these extra layers of privacy and protection in my life–now maybe I know!

The next step was to make a list of people in our lives who might be members of our support team. Of course, I put down my uncle Jasper, you, and my other two pen pals. I didn’t put my brother Norman’s name on the list, because I knew right off the bat that he didn’t have the capacity for items 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 12. I mean, not at all.

I wanted to put my friend Ira, who’s in the painting group I lead through House of Hope, on the list, as well as my uncle’s organ teacher, who’s also in the painting group. But we were told that we couldn’t have anyone in our support system who was receiving services from the agencies we worked or volunteered for. “You might be on their support team,” the leader told us, “but while they are receiving services from the agency you represent, they cannot be on your support team.”

I completed the project with my short list. We had to rank everyone’s capacity for each of the items we’d listed on a 10-point scale, with 0 for having no capacity to 10 for having strong and consistent capacity. You and everyone else on my list did great!

So the good news, I’ve got strong members on my team! Thank you,  INWk, for being one of them!

The bad news is only one of these people, my uncle, lives near me and is available for me to see regularly. Clearly, I need to do some work to fill out my support system.


I thought about my friends. Well, I don’t have many. There’s Anaya!

I invited her over one evening to see if she might be a good candidate. I really enjoy listening to her! She talks about art almost every time we get together, and I always end up feeling inspired.


But as we talked, I discovered that she doesn’t have all the qualities I’m looking for. She talks while I talk–I mean at the same time–and I’m not able to finish, complete, or even discover what it is I’m trying to say.


She also has a habit of zoning out while I’m talking.

I asked her once what she was doing, if I was boring, or if she was visualizing what I was saying, or what.

She confided that I was a little boring, and she said, “My mind is like a butterfly. It can’t be tied down! When the ideas come, my mind needs to follow. All my friends understand this.”


I can understand it, and it’s a fine and even admirable quality for a friend to have. It’s just not a quality I’m looking for in a member of my support system.

So, I added a new item to my list:

15) Has the capacity to listen to me without getting bored, or will at least take measures to pay attention to what I say even when I am boring.


So Anaya, while a valuable and inspiring friend, isn’t part of my support system.

The next morning, I invited over the social worker from the refugee center. She was at Support2 with me. She’s actually Jena and my social worker, since I adopted Jena through the center, so, while I can’t be on her support team, she can be on mine.


We had a good visit. I definitely feel like she’s a strong member of my team.

The thing is, she kept getting up and walking around while we were talking. This isn’t the first time she’s done this. She always walks around while we talk.  I think it’s just that she has a lot of energy and she’s a very physical person. But I find it a little unsettling when we’re in the midst of a deep talk, and she’s suddenly up walking around and joking.


I thought about adding a new item:

16) Has the capacity to stay seated during a deep conversation.

It’s important to me, but I have the feeling I’m being petty, so I left it off the list.

I felt better: In a day, I was able to add one more person who I see on a regular basis to the list. I knew I still had some work to do, though.

That afternoon, my stereo broke. Usually, I fix it myself, but I was in the middle of painting, and Jena wanted some attention, so I decided to call a repair person.

I really like the woman who the Fix-It company sent!


After she finished her work, she stayed for a while, at my invitation.

As soon as we began to talk, she sat down. And I noticed she remained seated the entire time we talked!


She listened to everything I had to say. She never interrupted. And then she shared insights and observations from her own life, and everything she shared helped me understand better the situation I’d been talking about!


I had the most amazing feeling while I was talking to her: I felt really, truly listened to.

While I was talking, she became quiet–not just “quiet” as in waiting-for-her-turn. But quiet–as in still, but attentive. Truly, deeply listening to what I was saying, without thinking about what she would say next.

It felt like a real gift.


I hope I am able to learn and practice that quality.

She stayed for about half-an-hour, and we became friends in that time. We’re getting together for tea next week. I really hope that we stay friends because she’s someone I’d love to have on my support team. And I’d love to be on hers.


Oh, this is such a long letter! I hope it’s not too boring! Well, you can tell me if it is!

INWk, thank you for being such a good support person for me! I hope that I have the capacity to be a support for you!

I was so excited to hear that some of your inventions are making it out into the world! How does that feel? I did notice your new ice cream flavors, Weight of the World and Taste of Diet. In fact, I bought Weight of the World, and I love it!

It’s so exciting to me to think that I know the inventor of that ice cream! I hope that you’re getting lots of great feedback on it–you deserve it!

Fill me in on all that’s new with you! It always seems like so much happens in your world in between our letters, even though in mine, the days barely crawl by!

Maybe you can explain the funny textures of time to me.

So much love to you and all of yours!


p.s. Jena thanks you for the Cat Compendium! She adores cat words! 🙂


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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 8

Author’s Note: The story at the end of this letter contains spoilers for the game Samorost 3. If you want to discover this fun puzzle-game for yourself, you might want to skip the story at the end!

A reply to: A letter from Dove


Dearest Dove,

So I do have a friend from “the big way out there!” And the friend is you!

Do you know what? I don’t feel surprised.


I feel happy.

And Maki is your friend from the Twin Roses story! That is so wonderful! How on earth did the two of you manage to meet up again?

I told Jenna the story of II  TTYE, the girl, and the Twin Roses ice cream, and she loved it. It’s her favorite story.


I went into her room the other night, and she had the most enchanted expression on her face as she was singing, “II  TTYE flies! Girl flies! All round the sun! All round the stars!”


I asked her when I tucked her in what she liked about the story.

“Twin Roses!” she said. “And stars.”


I wouldn’t be surprised if Jena wanted to be a space explorer when she grew up. Or maybe a physicist.


Congratulations on your new apartment! The photos you sent of the girls are adorable. They look so happy!

Sometimes when I watch Jena, I wish I still had that joy of everything being new. That’s how your daughters look in their photos.

At least learning is still new to me–especially chess!


Do you have new things you’re learning, and does it fill you with wonder and inspiration to learn them?

I love your time-scarf! Yes, a knitted scarf is a much better description of time! All the yarn connected up together!

Jena and I have begun to create our own story. We’re both making it up, and I’m writing it and illustrating it. My uncle knows a publisher who might be interested, but even if he doesn’t want it, we’re having so much fun inventing it!

I’ve enclosed a copy of the first chapter for you to share with your littlies!

I have no idea how long it will end up being. I think very long… like a whole scarf’s worth!


You see, Jena keeps inventing more!

Originally, it was going to be a story about an alien–but Jena decided she wanted it to be about a space squirrel. He’s lost, but he meets lots of friends, and they all help him to become found again. But Jena says we need lots of adventures along the way. I really love the way her imagination is developing!


Jena would love the decryption code! She’s only just making sense of letters, but I think it would be fun for her to know about codes, too. Or if she’s not ready for that, I would be! I love encryptions and decryptions!

The other night, Jena and I went outside to look at the stars. Jena began laughing as she pointed at a comet.

“What’s so funny?” I asked her.

“There’s girls!” she said, pointing out at space.

And at that moment, I felt like my heart opened up and let in all of life! To think! This universe is more vast than I ever knew… and there are so many more out there, and one who’s come from there is my friend, you!

Thank you, II  TTYE.




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Samorost the Lost

By Jena and Meadow McCumber

If the stars are flowers,
Are we their seeds,

Made of light-dust
And cosmic giggles,
Space-bits, and weeds?


In the Beyond beyond,
Far from the Here that’s near,

the hound looked up
at a tin ear’s cheer.

“Oh,” said the one tree,
“What brings this here?”

“Never worry,” said two tree,
“Only the silly fear!”

“Then color me goofy,”
said three tree,
“For afraid is me
As sure as can be!”


Down from the tower
ran the little one, lost.

It is the Space Squirrel,
known as Samorost,

Cosmically tossed
through the space whirl.


“Ahoy!” to the hound dog!
“Avast!” to the bunny-pillars!


A strange wind blows hither,
to make a lost squirrel shiver.

“What dost thou want?
Little lost squirrel?”


“To be unlost
In this big wide world.”

“My puff can blow magic,”
said the puff flower truly.

“Ride the wind higher,
Back towards your home, duly.”


“Ring-ho!” said Goldie,
the gazelle with the old key.

“Jump aboard! Follow me!
I’ll take you to Old Ghoulie!”


Down step by step
Over the lichen lip

Goldie and Squirrely
traversed the path curly.


“What, is that you?”
said Old Ghoulie.

“The one who is lost
That they call Samorost?”


At the end of the world
the secrets unfurled.

And the way home was told
To the Squirrel, lost yet bold.

To be continued…

Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 5

A reply to: A letter from Dove


Dearest Dove,

Congratulations! Twins! Kiya and Kari–what beautiful names!

And you sound wonderful for a new mother! Judging from your writing, it doesn’t sound like you’re tired at all!

Of course you must be–even with Maki. And you’re working full-time. You’ve got my admiration!

How lovely that Maki is there to help. She sounds like a beautiful person. And I really like that your relationship with her is based on respecting each other by not bothering with a lot of prying questions.

My uncle taught me to do that when I was a little girl. Very seldom will he ask me anything directly about how or what I’m doing. Instead, he listens. And because he doesn’t ask, and because he does listen, I usually end up telling him everything, and then some!

Thinking about how fortunate you are to have Maki gave me the opportunity to also feel grateful for my uncle Jasper. I don’t think I could do a good job with Jena if I didn’t have him!

My brother has been far too busy to help with Jena at all–he’s rather childish, himself, besides, and so I’ve picked up that he feels a little jealous or something about having someone else be the center of attention. No matter! At the Wind Farms, he’s the Big Boss, so everybody bows when he enters the room, practically!  Eh. Don’t mind me. I’m just doing the sister thing, teasing my big brother Norman.

The other day, Jasper stopped by, out of the blue. I was so relieved. Jena was feeling sad, and nothing I could do would cheer her up. Not singing, not dancing, not telling stories, not even cookies. She still gets like that sometimes.

Jasper picked her up and held her.


Then he took her into her room, put her down for a nap, and read to her until she fell asleep.


If you heard Jasper’s voice, you’d feel happy, too. It’s a lot like my dad’s voice was–very rich, like an oboe, only not so nasal as an oboe. Maybe more like a cello. Jasper has been an actor on the stage, so when he reads stories, he does all the voices!

He left before Jena woke up, but he’d already done the magic.

She woke feeling so happy!


This may sound strange, seeing how she’s only two, but I think she’s working on reading skills.

She loves to play with blocks, and she’s starting to pay more attention to the pictures, numbers, and letters painted on them than she is to them as three-dimensional objects in and of themselves.


She picks them up and studies them.  I heard her say, “One, two,” when she was examining them the other day.

“What’s that, Jena?” I asked her.

“Buckle shoe,” she replied. So I don’t know if she was reading them or just repeating the nursery rhyme I say to her when I help her dress.


We still spend hours a day talking! I love it. I haven’t had someone who will talk with me for that long since I lived in the dorm and my college room-mate and I would talk half the night, every night!

If we talk this much now, what will it be like when she’s five or six? Or sixteen? Oh, I hope we still talk a lot when she’s sixteen. I didn’t talk much with my mom when I was sixteen. Did you?


Right now, she loves to “talk monsters.” I tell her about big pink squishy ones with twenty tentacles, and she tells me about “Purple.” I don’t know much about Purple except “eat shoes.”

How are your babies doing now? Do they pay much attention to each other? Do they verbalize much? Are they good eaters? Tell me everything! (Oops! There I go asking a million questions after saying I don’t! I guess when it comes to babies, curiosity gets the better of me!) Oh! And do they have teeth yet?


I wonder if they sleep through the night.

Jena has started to. I tuck her in as it’s starting to get dark, and she sleeps all the way through until morning.

I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed time alone. But now, I’ve got a few hours every night.


I even snuck in a long soak the other day. I never dreamed that a bath could feel so much like heaven!


Every night, before I go to sleep, I stop in to look at Jena. I can’t imagine a time when she wasn’t part of my life, anymore. She’s so much the center of it now.


And when I think how peaceful she is, how well-loved, and how much she loves in return, I fall asleep feeling that this world is full of goodness.


I hope all is well with you, Maki, Kiya and Kari!

Lots and lots of love,


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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 4

A reply to: A letter from Dove


Dove! Congratulations! I have a million things to do, and I owe one of my other pen pals a letter, too, but after I received your letter, I had to drop everything to write!

I’m so excited for you!

Of course, it must feel very stressful. And I’m so happy that you have Maki there to help. Seeing what a challenge it is to raise a toddler on my own, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be the single parent of an infant. What a blessing that Maki would come into your life! Does she plan to be with you after the delivery?

And of course I’ll write! I can’t think of anything that would keep me from writing to you. Don’t feel badly about your decision to wait to share your pregnancy with me.  Isn’t it part of the Pen Pal Code that we get to choose what to reveal and when? I don’t think the code says we need to tell everything about ourselves!

I’ve heard of online friends even posing as someone else–I think that could be fun, too. Sort of like imaginary friends. Because even when we pose or pretend, we still reveal. There’s something of ourselves and our essence that gets transmitted even when we’re pretending to be someone else.

Congratulations on your promotions, too! Will you keep working after you have the baby?

I can imagine that it must feel very rewarding to have a job outside the home–a chance to talk with others, go someplace! Do something besides cleaning up after a little one.


Except for mild instances of stir-craziness, I feel happy with the lifestyle of stay-at-home mom. I’m focusing my career on my painting now, which I’m able to do at home, and my uncle has gallery contacts that have begun to express interest in my work. So, even though I miss the stimulation of going someplace every  day, I feel that, on balance, the rewards overwhelm any temporary feelings of confinement.

Jena is doing so much better. Her movement skills are developing, so she feels less frustrated now that she can get where she wants to quickly and easily. It keeps me on my toes, though, especially since she’s so independent now! She’ll get her own food whenever she’s hungry. (I make sure to always leave a plate of healthy snacks out for her.)

The other day, I found her sitting on her bed eating tofu tacos. She acted like it was the greatest thing.

When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “Bunny frog party.”


She’s starting to speak in English, and I’m starting to be able to understand her! It makes such a difference.

I’ve always thought of her as this miracle in my care. The other day, though, I felt a beautiful shift. As I carried her into bed, I found myself thinking of her as my daughter.


Well, Dove, soon you’ll be holding your own child in your arms. In fact, maybe you’ve already given birth!

Sending you–and your child–and lovely Maki–so much love right now,


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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 3

A reply to: A letter from Dove


Dear Dove,

Reading your letters and writing to you has become such an indulgence for me! I have two other pen pals, and I love to read and write to them, too. The difference is that I justify writing to them because they giving me “new mom” and “adoptive mom” advice. Writing to them is part of my mom duties.

Writing to you is purely for me! I get such secret pleasure now for everything I do that’s just for me, even a bubble bath or a few stolen hours at the easel. Isn’t that wicked? I mean, every single minute, I’ve got a to-do list of at least twenty items. But I smile a devilish smile when I put my list aside and pull out my oil paints. Ah! Selfish indulgence! What joy!

Before Jena wakes up, I can steal a few more minutes for writing to you!


When talking about alien life, you wrote, “I think the proof is in the fact that we even consider the possibility!” What do you mean by this? Do you mean that everything we consider possible… is possible?

If so, I will have to ponder that. I had this idea that we could imagine as possibilities every sort of impossibility.

I’m sorry your relationship is going through a tough time.

A secret: I’ve never really had a romantic relationship. I’ve had crushes before. In fact, I seem to always be forming crushes. And I seem to have a million friends. But I’ve never been in a close romantic or sexual relationship. I don’t think I miss it!

My newest friend is from the same refugee camp that Jena is from. We found out that Jena speaks Urdu, so I’ve been asking him to stop by to speak with her. I like him, but I don’t feel that kind of spark that I read about in Jane Austen novels.


That’s so sad that you had to say unkind things to your person. Since you felt that you had to say them, I’m guessing that saying them was for higher good or for the better of you and the other person. In that light, maybe they aren’t even unkind things, do you think?

That’s so wonderful that you might be making friends with your neighbor!  It must feel so convenient and cozy to have a friendly neighbor!

I live about a mile from my closest neighbor, but this is the home I grew up in, and most of my neighbors have lived here most of my life, so we feel that we are friends, and almost even family, even if we don’t pass by each other’s house every day.

You hinted at some big things happening in your life. I won’t ask about them, since I want to respect your privacy. And at the same time, please know that anything you’d like to share, I’ll be happy to know. Think of my rose-colored glasses being worn over very sympathetic eyes! (OK, that was clumsily written, but what I mean, is I hope you think of me as a friend, too, and I’ll always be happy to lend support and encouragement whenever you need!)

So what’s new in my life?


My uncle Jasper painted a beautiful micro-landscape for Jena. I hung it in her room with the paintings I’ve done. My work is nothing compared to Jasper’s. He’s been my primary painting instructor and inspiration.

Since we discovered that Jena speaks Urdu, she’s doing so much better! She seems happy most of the time now. I’m starting to feel hope that she’ll be able to have a good life.


I spend a lot of time talking with her and playing with flash cards, which she loves–until she hates them! I’m learning about toddler-attention-span! It’s kinda like mine, actually: lasts forever for her current obsession and a micro-minute for things that bore her!


She still gets mad or upset sometimes, but I guess it’s part of being a person on this planet to wake up on the wrong side of the bed now and then.

One of my pen pals told me it was “toddler hormones!” I’m pretty sure that’s just an urban myth, but next time we visit Jena’s pediatrician, I’ll ask about it.

For now, I’m just trying to provide plenty of space for her to feel however she feels in the moment.


Like me, she changes her emotions quickly enough! So if she’s grumpy one minute, ten minutes later, she’ll catch me in a tackle-hug and be squealing for “fly-hi, Memo!”


Ah, look! My morning’s gone and the little bug will be up soon!

Dove, thanks so much for writing, and I hope everything works out well for you, with your new neighbor friend, your relationship complications, and the other happenings in your life.

Happy sciencing!



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Forgotten Art: Meadow-Dove 2

A reply to: A Letter from Dove Singer


Dear Dove,

You wrote to me! Thank you!

I was so happy to get your reply to my letter. I always feel a little self-conscious after I send letters. I forget what I’ve written, and I know that when my fingers hit the keys, I write all sorts of wild things! I often feel my mind is bypassed and the words come straight from heart and soul, just like Jena’s nonsense stories when she’s feeling happy and free.


Then, after I send the letter, my mind kicks and says, “Hey. Did you really forget to consult me when you were writing that letter? What did you write, anyway?” So, yeah. There’s all sorts of feelings of social awkwardness that kick in after I send anything I write!

But you wrote back, so I guess I didn’t mess up too terribly!

Thanks for the kind things you said about my family. I agree that they are amazing. I recognize that I come from privilege: my family is well-educated and prosperous, and any fatal flaws my family members might possess have always been well-hidden from me. I find them perfect. My brother Norman says I look at the world through rose-colored glasses, and he might be right. But I know my vision isn’t 20-20, and if my prescription calls for rose-colored glasses to correct my sight, so be it! I like the world I see through them.


My dad passed on a few years ago, and my mom a few years before that, so now it’s just me, my brother Norman, and my uncle Jasper. And Jena, of course.

You asked about basil: I don’t know if you get to Windenburg often, but I’ve seen quite a bit growing in the meadows here. In summer, when it blooms, the bees flock to it! I’ve always wanted to eat basil-honey! Do you think it would taste spicy? Or savory?


That’s so interesting that you’re intrigued by modern folklore! Many of my classmates focused on urban legends, and yes, accounts of extraterrestrial-sightings were a hot topic.

I keep an open mind. I’ve never met an extraterrestrials, as far as I know. In college, a lot of my friends claimed to be “Star People.” What they meant was, as they put it, they weren’t “from around here.” They had the feeling that they’d lived past lives on other planets in other solar systems and even other realms of being and this was their first time to incarnate here. I think they were looking for ways to account for the sense of alienation that is so common in my generation. Personally, I don’t think this has anything to do with an alien heritage and everything to do with the isolation and pervasive global fears that permeate life in the 21st Century.

I feel that alienation sometimes. And I also feel very firmly attached to this earth. I know I come from here: I belong here. Maybe it’s because I grew up roaming the meadows and fields.


I can tell that my daughter Jena feels alienation. It’s not surprising, considering what she’s experienced in her two short years. I’m hoping that by growing up here, surrounded by loving people, in a home nestled in the sun-warmed hills, she’ll come to feel that she belongs, and she’ll lose that sense that one heavy sigh of the earth will shake her off into the void.


I do have an interesting extraterrestrial story, though! My own urban legend! When I was little, my dad took me with him up to a ridge where he was installing the wind towers. There, we looked down onto crop circles in the fields below. He asked me what I thought could make them. I said it must be God, feeling bored and wanting to draw. He laughed, of course. Then he went through all the possible explanations. He refuted them all, except the extraterrestrial explanation. “Space craft,” he said.


So, who knows? My dad was ever the rationalist, and he believed what logic told him. I believe my heart, and my heart tells me that this world is vast and the universe beyond, and the universes beyond that, are even more vast!


Can you tell me more about what you’re exploring as a scientist? What do you need basil for?

Thanks for letting me ramble on to you! I can’t wait to read whatever you want to share with me about your life and your interests! What are you reading these days?

Most of my current reading comes in the form of a picture book with very thick pages!


With love,


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Forgotten Art: Meadow-Dove 1

A reply to: Dove Singer’s Profile


Dear Dove,

I saw your profile at the Pen Pal Project, and I wanted to write you immediately!

(Doesn’t it seem that a Meadow and a Dove belong together? 🙂 )

You look so beautiful! I hope you don’t mind me saying that. I tend to be very shy in person, but there’s just something about writing. It’s like an immediate conduit opens to my heart, and I just have to type out what I feel, as I feel it!

How do you like living in San Myshuno? Isn’t it a beautiful place? My uncle lives in the Spice District, and when I visit him, I love to hang out in the square to take in all the colors and flavors!

I don’t get much chance to visit my uncle these days, though he does often come to see me, because I’ve recently adopted a baby, a two-year-old Pakistani refugee. Such a sad story, and if we become pen pals, maybe I can tell you more later. But for now, I’ll just say that she’s healthy and keeping me on my toes!


You and I seem to have a background in science in common–I am not a scientist, but my father was and my brother is. My dad was a physicist, and he was devoted to sustainable energy. He installed the first wind farms here in Windenburg, and now my brother Norman manages the business, including the facilities and R & D.

I could have gone into the family business, too, but I chose to study the humanities. My degree is in cultural studies, with a focus in folklore. I’m hoping my knowledge of folk and fairy tales of the world will help me entertain little Jena!


I have to tell you, it feels like such an indulgence to write to an adult! Now and then, I can sneak in a little computer time or a little time behind the canvas (I love to paint), but most of my waking hours are devoted to keeping house, cooking, and caring for this incomprehensible being with whom I now share my life.


So, at any rate, what a joy to write to you about things other than tantrums, animal crackers, and nursery rhymes!

Oh, that reminds me of a nursery rhyme I can’t get out of my head ever since I saw your name!

The dove says coo, coo, what shall I do?
I can scarce maintain two.
Pooh, pooh! says the wren, I’ve got ten,
And keep them all like gentlemen.

I hope you feel that we would make good pen pal matches! If not, I completely understand. And at any rate, it has been fun to write this letter to you!

Wishing you a happy time in the lab and the city,

(Hopefully) Your new friend,



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