24 December 2010

17 December 2010

A Room with a View- Los Angeles-Part I

Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, November 2010

This was my first trip to Los Angeles. What struck me immediately as I was driven from LAX was the city's sheer size and number of different neighborhoods.

 Major office complexes mixed in with three story buildings as far as the eye could see--old mixed with new with palm trees lining the streets.

The reason for my visit was a business conference so I spent most of my time here---
Evidently quite the happening place, built by Conrad Hilton and later sold to Merv Griffin, the Beverly Hilton is located on almost 9 acres at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards and is the home of the Golden Globes. Lots of red carpet events are held here. I spent three days and while I was hoping that Antonio Banderas might show up as I was ordering my Starbucks non-fat latte at the lobby bar or a glass of merlot at the Trader Vic's bar poolside, the closest I got to Hollywood was seeing Florence Henderson aka Mrs. Brady at a charity event the night before I left. Walking about in Beverly Hills is unheard of--we drove each night to a restaurant that seemed just blocks away. From what I gather star sightings are most prevalent along Rodeo Drive.

I preferred to gaze at my surroundings and take in the vistas that are foreign to northeastern folk...
There is a light here not unlike the morning light one sees at sunrise in the east except it occurs in the evening and goes on forever, filling the sky with a gold color like nothing I have ever seen.

I know how long it lasts because on my last night, the lights went out in the hotel for about 2 hours and I was stranded on my balcony hoping the battery in my cellphone would hold up in the event I needed to call for assistance. The day before there had been a slight earthquake in Long Beach and just a couple weeks after I left, Ronni Chasen was shot as she was driving home from a premiere just blocks from my hotel.

So much for paradise. Los Angeles is complicated. Seductive yet treacherous, where the famous and the faceless co-exist in a vast area that is in places extremely beautiful and in others, devoid of humanity. It is the 2nd most populated city in the US, New York being number 1.  

As I watched the sun set and the traffic weave its way past me below my balcony, I tried to feel and hear the pulse of the city, much different from Manhattan, and find a connection to this city, Los Angeles.

12 December 2010

Magpie Tales-Flying Lessons

red golashes
race up the hill
in the fresh snow
frosty breaths
hang in the air
like runners on a sled 
suspended on the edge
of the world
holding on
letting go
without fear
rushing headlong
into the arms
of life

C.M. Jackson 2010

This is a Magpie Tale----fly here for more!

06 December 2010

The Art of Story

It was a dark and stormy night and all the Indians were gathered around the campfire. The Chief stood up and said, "Neewah, tell us a story." And this is the story that Neewah told, "It was a dark and stormy night and all the Indians were gathered around the campfire. The Chief stood up and said..."

And so it goes. That was a story Mr. Jackson's Dad told him, his sisters and their friends as they sat in their dark backyard wide eyed waiting for the next move Neewah would make...the older kids knowing the punchline watching for the younger kids' reaction. The elder Jackson setting the mood and telling the story to deliver the delight that resulted. Laughter and the joy of sharing is one of the components for a good story.

I love stories. I remember the first time I was able to string together a plot more complex than "See Jane run after Spot." I was hooked and wouldn't put the book down until the last page was turned. My breath exhaling as I finally knew the end, how it all worked out and my mind whirling at the possibilities.

Despite having a bit of the Irish in me, I never could tell a story without first writing it and even then, it's best if the reader or someone else takes over in the telling. No matter how hard I've tried, the telling, the punchline always gets lost because in the telling I am experiencing simultaneously the story and the possibilities of what might be. I laugh, cry and get angry all the while wondering where it is all going. 

So for me, the telling must be done by filling the blank page and giving my voice to the characters in the story and ultimately, the reader.

And so it goes...it was a dark and stormy night....

05 December 2010

Magpie Tales-Morning's Symphony

The sun waits center stage
As the moon sings a final aria
Silver notes
On a freshly fallen snow
Clouds float westward
Swaying like a gospel choir
Evergreens hum softly
Maple and oak branches
Drum beats in the cold air
A doe lifts her head
As the sun sings
Gold notes
A crescendo of life
Soaring ever higher
Mixing with silver
On a freshly fallen snow

C.M. Jackson 2010

For more thoughts of snow and winter wonder---visit Magpie Tales!

24 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

A Blessing

May your home be filled with laughter and the warm embrace of a summer day.
May you find peacefulness and beauty, challenge and satisfaction, humor and insight, healing and renewal,
love and wisdom, as in a quite heart.
May you always feel that what you have is enough.

Author Unknown

Best Wishes to all for a happy Thanksgiving!

A Room with a View...

in Chicago of the John Hancock Tower from the Sofitel Water Tower. This was my fifth or was it seventh visit to Chicago?  Hard to remember because Chicago is an annual business trip which means that I don't get to do much other than work....
With the exception of a trip eight years ago with my niece and best friend to visit American Girl and the tremendous museums the city has to offer, it is always been "fly in and fly out" within two days.

Due to the increased airfare for short term business travel this year (e.g $900.00 for two nights vs. $250.00 for a three night stay), I decided to stay and walk about for an afternoon and evening before I made my way back to O'Hare and home.

My first wish was to re-visit the Art Institute of Chicago and say "hello again" to the O"Keefe's there. However, as I got closer, I realized quite a bit had changed. Millenium Park, built over railyards and abandoned land, had been completed while I was flying in and out of Chicago over the last six years. Frank Gehry not only designed the concert pavillion but also a winding bridge that connects the park to another pavillion and the waterfront.

Chicago's motto "Urbs in Horto" (City in a Garden), evident in the numbers of trees and plantings throughout the city, continues with the thoughtful design of green space and public spaces throughout Millenium Park.
I can say I've been to the Bean! .... a curious and enormous stainless steel sculpture named "Cloud Gate" that looks like, yup, a bean.

Great place to people watch as they gaze at their reflections and the city skyline reflected back at them.
Continuing on, I found Lurie Gardens and Gehry's walkway which I could probably spend days gazing at and photographing... 
The Art Institute of Chicago, guarded by this fellow,
has added a new Modern Art wing since my last visit. So not only did I get to see Georgia's Sky above Clouds IV again, gaze at Van Goghs and some Hoppers but I also walked through the new wing and viewed a great selection of photography, paintings and sculpture. This museum is one of the great ones that should be on everyone's 'must see' list. 
Chicago is an amazing and beautiful city. On my last night the streets and public places were abuzz with the upcoming marathon. I haven't even mentioned the architecture, the food, the neighborhoods, the river tour and the people that make it delightful and unique. Next visit.

20 November 2010

Magpie Tales-Seasons

Autumn winds move clouds across an azure sky
Red, gold and amber leaves rustle at my feet
Swirling hoodoos of moments
Circling in my mind
I can hear winter whispering

C.M. Jackson 2010

For more.. fly here---Magpie Tales

02 November 2010

I'm on the road again....

Enjoy the musical interlude while I jump on a plane and fly west. California here I come! When I get back, I promise to tell you all about the places I've been and where I'm going. Peace and thanks for stopping by.

28 October 2010

Flash Friday-"It's a Great Day for America!"

Time flies when
You are having fun
Don’t know if that’s true
But it certainly helps
If you get to see
Craig Ferguson
A Scotsman
Now proud American
Make it to Carnegie Hall
Telling stories
Acting silly
Be forewarned
Practice, practice
Is how one gets there
But with comedy it does help
If one swears.

C.M. Jackson 2010

Yep, you've made it to Friday and if you can say it in 55 words, you MUST go tell the g-man. Happy weekend all!

27 October 2010

Theme Thursday-Wheel

As I watch the remnants of the "Chiclone" float by in the night time sky, I laugh because I began my month in Chicago and have felt like I've been riding a merry-go-round trying hard to get back to writing but I just kept going round and round and then it hit me..Huh!

All's good and I'm back. "Tis Thursday and the Theme  is "wheel'--spin on over here..

16 October 2010

Magpie Tales-Lessons learned

Crashing into brick walls
Develops character
Loving and losing
Opens the heart for true love
Missed opportunities
Awaken the mind to possibilities
Drive the potential for future success
Doors closing
Signal a new beginning
Fear, sadness and doubt
Are just moments in a life
Filled with blessings
Count them

C.M. Jackson 2010

Inspiration and more may be found at Magpie Tales.

15 October 2010

Flash 55-Esperanza

33 men lost
Their families
The world
Rising up
Like a phoenix
Of the good
That is possible
We work
As one
As one
As one
There is

C.M. Jackson 2010
It's Friday and you know what to do--say it in 55 words and go see the g-man! Happy Weekend to all!

05 October 2010

Magpie Tales-Lights On

A wildfire raged through their hearts the first time Mel and Gloria met some sixty-seven years ago. It took them by surprise, burning an indelible impression into their minds.

Two kids against a crazy world.

They nurtured the flames of their desire through war and into a brownstone in Brooklyn experiencing the birth of their children, family squabbles, the triumphs and misfortunes of daily life, the welcoming of grandchildren and vacations to places they never imagined.

The seasons changed and the years passed until the day Mel and Gloria walked hand in hand down their stoop into their son's waiting car.

Gloria cried as they settled into their new home, an assisted living residence close to their children.

"Where are my things?" She asked, moving about the room.

Mel caught her hand as she passed and lifted the needle on to the phonograph.

As they danced about the room, she saw the lantern in the window begin to glow in the evening light, placed her head on Mel's shoulder and knew she was home.

C.M. Jackson 2010

Just another magpie tale---for more, take a gander here.

30 September 2010

Willow Ball 2010 -Part II

The weather was treacherous so we had to stop off at a neighboring airport and board a private jet for the rest of the trip.

We made it just as the party was beginning---Sting took one look at Willow Manor and started humming. Did I mention he brought his orchestra with him? After the proper introductions and some mingling, he took the microphone and proposed a toast to the hostess-Willow and began to sing---

Mr. Jackson, very pleased with himself, took my hand and we danced the night away.

This is just a hint of the happenings--waltz your way to Willow Manor and check it out!

Willow Ball 2010-Part I

Unbeknowst to me Mr. Jackson ended up backstage at Bethel Woods after a concert we went to this summer and got to talking with this gent...

Mr. Jackson complimented him on a wonderful concert and mentioned that we all should get together the next time he was in town. Then he remembered the invite to Willow's Ball and suggested that Sting and Trudi join us!

Sting chuckled, "The party where Johnny and Tony got into it last year?"

Mr. Jackson assured him that it was all a misunderstanding and besides Willow might like some musical entertainment. His response follows:

Mr. Jackson assured Sting that Willow Manor wasn't very far from New York City and he could be an Englishman anywhere.

Meanwhile I ordered my dress...
went to Tiffany's and picked out this lovely trinket...

...and this lovely purse
and had everything shipped to the house last week. I am still waiting ....evidently the delivery truck had a bit of a brake problem and ended up rolling into the Hudson River as its driver was having his lunch in Hoboken.
I had to improvise as we were meeting Sting (Trudi had a conflict) at the helipad downtown and was told not to be late.So with flowers in hand for lovely Willow, we made our way to the ferry hoping the rain would hold off.

All the while a feeling deja vu surrounding me as I thought "How lucky am I ?"

For up to the minute details of the gala---fox trot, quick step or just walk on by....here!

28 September 2010

Magpie Tales-Il Niente

The leaves of the olive trees glistened silver in the early morning sun as our group of made our way through the hills of Tuscany, the towers of San Gimignano in the distance like an apparition or an oasis in the midst of a desert. Today, we would walk fourteen miles to the medieval tower city. We were a colorful group, a term my grandmother would use in place of eccentric because she thought it polite; nine Americans, four couples, me and two guides.Thirty minutes ago, we stood outside our villa, where we had spent a lovely evening  walking around Siena, shuffling about wondering why we had to leave, slightly sleepy, the smell of wood burning in the hills below. Harry and Ida, in their late seventies and proud Texans, Sarah and Joel, mid-forties from Massachusetts away from their kids for the first time in ten years, Peg and Warren, newly retired, Eliza and Jessie, life partners and investment bankers from San Francisco and me, newly single, greeting 40 and Europe for the first time. Our guides, Maria, a transplant from Queens, New York and Alessandro from Milan, began as they had each morning, explaining the route, handing out snacks and water for our packs.

So we walked, Maria in the front and Alessandro following, the conversation moving through the breeze and the tinkling of olive leaves.

"We started late, got to make up time, Ida. Move it."
"Joel we need to think about the interview into the club, it's important we make the cut."
"Thanks for your help,Warren. Perhaps your wife would like some water too."
"Liz, you hang here with Maria and have your smoke. I'm gonna continue walking with the Jersey girl and the hottie from Milan."

I walked, never catching Harry and Ida, passing as Eliza threw down her pack and declared the smoking light on, insisting that Warren go bring his wife some water and snacks, navigating around Joel as he was unzipping his hiking pants to make them shorts yelling at Sarah, "It's all bullshit!"

As I started up another hill, wondering why I was doing this, I heard a voice, "Lean into the hill. Take slow steps and rest your arms behind you."

Alessandro illustrated as he passed me, tucking his hands behind and under his pack, just as Jessie motored up behind us.

"You have it all under control, don't you?", Jessie said as she reached up and tucked his long hair behind his ear.

He didn't flinch. I was appalled and impressed.

"Come on Jersey Girl! What do you have to say?" Jessie said dancing around the two of us, "Pretty good for having knee surgery a month ago, eh?"

I continued up the hill, leaving Jessie with Alessandro, seeing Harry and Ida ahead moving closer to the mystical towers of San Gimignano. The conversation lost as I put distance between me and the group, thinking only of finishing and the possibility of a shower.

In the quiet, I saw and felt a place that was nothing I had ever experienced except, perhaps northern Arizona, different trees but bright sunshine and great expanses of land and that's when I realized in my soul what I needed.

So I walked until I saw the gate and the towers before me, Harry and Ida were pacing waiting for the group and directions to our hotel. I took pictures as Harry and Ida talked to me about their grandkids. Tourists on day trips parted as the rest of our group climbed the hill, Maria and Alessandro gathering us and pointing us to Hotel L'Antico Pozzo in the midst of a plaza. 

Salty, sandy and tired, I heard my room number and bid the group 'adieu' and staggered into the hotel. I was greeted like majesty and led to a room that was nothing like I'd had ever seen ---a huge bed, curtains billowing in the breeze and a shower that was palatial.

After a blissful thirty minutes, I emerged onto the plaza, sans hiking gear dressed for dinner to meet my group who was already positioned in a prime spot  on the plaza and garnering the attention of the wait staff, laughing and toasting the day.

I joined the group in the midst of a toast and Alessandro handed me a glass of grappa, tucking my hair behind my ear as he whispered, "You did well."

I smiled and  said "Il Niente" the scents of verbena, rosemary, lavender and citrus enveloping me as I looked into his eyes for the first time.

C.M. Jackson 2010

This is just another Magpie Tale---travel here for more scents or sense...

24 September 2010

Flash 55-A New Day

A new reality
Nothing to do with
The economy
More about my
Work for the man
Anything’s possible
But make a plan
Find a way
Amidst the day to day
Take time to play
Let go of the past
For this much I know
Time moves fast
So many places to go

C.M. Jackson 2010

According to a recent study, the recession ended in June 2009....if you can say it 55 words--you know what to do, go talk to the g-man. Happy Friday and here's to the next upturn !

23 September 2010

Theme Thursday-Reveal

As a symphony of bees and crickets plays on,  golden beams of sunshine reach down into the garden and the hydrangea nod in the breeze.

He sits waiting for her as he has done each Sunday for the last ten years. A moment in time, his heart beating a bit faster as he notices the flowers seem to stand taller and the butterflies float in the air.

Never quite certain until the scent of lavender and lilacs envelop him and she turns to meet his gaze.
For more revelations--check out Theme Thursday!

17 September 2010

Flash 55-Snapshots

I hum
An unknown song
Lights of the big city
In my rearview mirror
I wind my way
Through traffic
Horns blaring
New Mexico vistas
Still flashing like
A slide show
On the windshield
Of my mind
Smell of pinon
Wafts alongside
Falafel and pretzels
I exist between
Two worlds
For now

C.M. Jackson 2010

If you can say it in 55 words --Well, what are you waiting for? Go tell the G-Man! It's Friday Flash 55!!

16 September 2010

Magpie Tales-Time Stands Still

tiny grains of sand
from under toes
as the tide moves
in and out
warm  breezes
sunburnt shoulders
sea glass
through fingers
like confetti
red dust blowing
down a trail
hoodoos ahead
white magic
storm clouds billowing
in an azure sky.

C.M.Jackson 2010

13 September 2010

Monday Morning WakeUp Call--Altitude with Attitude

Tales from the Trails (TFTT)

Something about the climate and the geography in New Mexico makes my heart sing. Seriously, I have more energy and I can't get enough of the clean fresh air and sunshine. Being from the east coast, I haven't had too many bad experiences when it comes to the altitude (7,000 ft). Except if you count not being able to sleep, like at all--wide awake pacing all night ....happened this trip and it wasn't until I really thought about it and of course, 'googled', found out that what I was experiencing was altitude sickness.

Seems one has to drink 1 ounce of water for each pound one weighs each day to acclimate. Without getting into the details, let's just say for me, that is a whole lot of water--not coffee, tea or wine, but water. This trip we were blessed with great weather that was cool and sunny. So while we drank water and in case you wondering, no tequila and minimal wine, it wasn't as much as we should have given the exertion of hiking every other day or would have given the typical warmer temperatures.

Here's a lesson from the trail at altitude, drink and drink and drink water--not coffee, tea, tequila or wine and you'll be fine.

Now what about these two kids? This was an 8th grade graduation project---how cool are they?

No matter your altitude, remember it's about the attitude. Make it a great week!

11 September 2010

Never Forget

Hold On

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

A Pueblo Indian Prayer

No matter how many years go by and how far we travel--the memory of those lost on this day will live on.

To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.-Thomas Campbell

10 September 2010

Flash 55-"Re-Entry Ain't Easy"

Red dust covers my clothes
Pours out of my boots
I pound them on my back step
With each thud
I feel the moments fade
Throw a load in the washer
Closing the door
I watch as the water fills
Washing away
My heart
For now
Returning me
To work

C.M. Jackson 2010
If you can say it in 55 words--go see the g-man--Happy Friday Folks!!

07 September 2010

There's gold in those hills...

After spending a day walking about Santa Fe acclimating to the altitude (7,000 feet), Mr. Jackson and I decided that we would try out our new gps gadget, take a hike and locate a geocache named "Lucky Coin." Geocaching is a treasure hunt using a gps device to locate a geocache based upon the gps' coordinates. The "Lucky Coin" geocache trail is in area that we had never had a chance to explore so we filled up our camels and got in the car.  Completed in 2005, the Dale Ball Trails include about 22 miles of hiking and biking trails within 10 minutes of the plaza. We started in a section that is adjacent to the Audubon Center and an area of town which is owned by the Nature Conservatory --truly beautiful. The hike started with a .8 mile walk to the trailhead and then climbed via switchbacks 1200 feet to the point where my internal hiking clock said we had gone as far as we should go, about 3 miles, given our 'lowlander' status and the fact that we hadn't taken a strenous hike in quite some time. Mr. Jackson looked at me as if I were commiting mutiny--" we are just .5 miles from the cache."

"Yes, that's true but it is based upon a straight line (a gps triangulates based upon three points) and we will need to continue on the trail for perhaps, another mile or so, " I said.

Mind you both of us felt fine and were enjoying the view, but the little voice I hear when hiking was saying "It is two in the afternoon you have been hiking for a hour and half at altitude and have to get back." I always listen to that voice and after a bit of grumbling, Mr. Jackson agreed and we made our descent.

So, yes there is gold in those hills still--I assured Mr. Jackson that our lucky coin would be there the next time we visited.

Here's some shots from the trail:

Always remember it is about the journey...

06 September 2010

Monday Monday Wake Up Call-The Big Bad Wolf?

Mr. Jackson came across this find on one of our hikes in Bandelier. He saw a white reflection and thinking that it was a plastic bag, he ventured off the trail to pick it up. When I finally caught up (more on that later), he could hardly contain his excitement!! Isn't this cool?, he said. Through gasps, I agreed and promptly began to take a few shots to memorialize the moment, reminding him that we needed to leave his new friend where he found him. Being an excellent hiker, he returned Wolfy back to the wilderness.

We stopped back at the ranger's station to advise them of our find. Amazingly, we were advised that there no wolves in Bandelier and that Wolfy was more likely Wiley, a coyote. Go figure. That was one big coyote! Happy trails and may your week be a great adventure!

30 August 2010

Monday Morning Wake Up Call--Santa Fe

My home away from home--Santa Fe ...Mr Jackson and I will be having breakfast at Cafe Pasqual's or perhaps, the Plaza Cafe and then we are off to find new adventures or perhaps, new treasures...who knows...

Enjoy the week! I promise to bring you more tales from the trails when I return.

29 August 2010

"There's no place like home..."

...ever feel like a place is home? That's the way New Mexico makes me feel every time I step foot on its soil and breathe its air. Mr. Jackson agrees and we have been walking the Plaza in heaven!!! The smell of sage, pinon and yes, roasted chiles fill the air which has a hint of fall in it.  more later..off to meet friends..

20 August 2010

Flash 55-Moments Matter

Time stands still
The moment
You choose to
Breathe the air
As it carries
The scents of flowers
Past cheeks
Feel the grass
Between your toes
The sun on your face
Sharing time
With the ones you love
Listening to their laughter
Watching them smile
Stretching out
Like a new day
Moments matter

C.M. Jackson 2010

If you can write it in 55 words---tell the g-man! Happy Friday!!!

18 August 2010

Happy Anniversary You Crazy Kids!!!

Mr. Jackson's sister and her husband are celebrating their anniversary today--43 years --an amazing accomplishment and a testament to their commitment to one another. Even more amazing when you hear that Mr. Jackson as a youngster would meet Ron at the door, telling him that the iced tea and the cards were ready, not once,but every time Ron showed up at his house to pick up his big sister. To his credit, Ron drank iced tea and played cards every time---to this day, they are brothers. We are blessed and wish them continued happiness and health!

Venice 2007

In honor of their day, let's all dance along to their favorite song--


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