Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sorrowful IWWG News

From Elizabeth Julia Stouman:

Dear Friend,

As some of you may already know, we have had a death in the Guild family. Our dear sister, Judi Beach, passed away on April 21 at her home in Sedgwick, Maine. She had liver cancer. Judi and I shared the joyful responsibility of being Co-Coordinators of the Regional Representatives.

This is a great loss to the Guild and to the many Guild sisters who knew and loved her personally. A more detailed account will appear in the upcoming Network, which will be mailed out shortly. There will be a memorial at this year's “Remember the Magic” conference in June and a Judi K. Beach Memorial Fund has been opened as well.

A weblog has been created,, where you can share your memories of Judi and/or your condolence.

Judi often opened or closed her emails to Hannelore and I with a beautiful image of nature she beheld that day; her emails were imbued with her warmth and kindness. A sampling appears at the bottom of this email to you.

In the spirit of the Guild,

Elizabeth Julia Stoumen
IWWG Network Editor & Membership Secretary
PO Box 810, Gracie Station
New York, NY 10028-0082

Please visit the Guild's website:


September 11
Dear Elizabeth and Hannelore,
An upcoming interview on WERU FM radio is planned to coincide with the release of my first children's book, Names for Snow.

The weather here is ideal: sunny days, temperatures in the low 70s, perfect for sipping tea in the porch swing, and nighttime temps around 50, perfect for sleeping! And the stars are so immediate – each one like a small stitch in a navy duvet. You can readily see Mars and even the cummerbund of the Milky Way. (Sigh…) Hope your days are ideal also.


February 1
We have missed the last heavy snowfall that you received. We had two heavy storms in early January but since then have had just an occasional dusting. Enough to keep the fields white. It's cold enough to freeze even Penobscot Bay at high tide, and then when the tide goes out, the ice breaks up and re-piles when the tide comes in again. The shoreline is caked with blocks of ice. The sunsets have been incredible - the colors really intense. Tonight the sun was a golden coin that fell behind the tree-line and left the sky marbled in fuschia and purple and blue-gray. Beautiful!

August 5
This is a day to be in Maine: the sky like a bowl of blue with dollops of whipped cream clouds. A delicious day to whet the appetite. The breeze keeps bugs away from the porch where I sip lemonade on the swing and watch the wind comb through the wildflowers of the back field. Wish you could know Maine like this.

My knee surgery is scheduled for October 4 and I will be away from my computer for the whole month. I plan to get the Regional contacts' letter out before then.

August 15
Today wears a gray hat which sits low on the horizon though in the east and in the west, I can see light beneath the brim!

December 3
Hi Elizabeth!
There's just the slightest whisper of snow falling now. The ground looks salted and the brown brush looks like shaggy hair. All is peaceful and quiet - a state I wish for the world. And for your world.


February 11
Today is truly the winter wonderland. It's as though some heavenly baker pulled the beaters from the meringue without turning the machine off. We've had a foot of wet snowfall which means it clings to every tree limb and stalk, every twig; it disappears all the projects abandoned last fall and even my neighbor's place up the road (who collects anything that once had an engine) looks like a picture postcard. Ansel Adams would run out of film on a day like today. I'm glad I didn't have to go anywhere as the drive has filled in even after the plowman came this morning.

February 20
A couple of weekends ago, I participated in Raising Readers Book Festival in southern Maine. I was nervous beforehand, but when I arrived and found nearly 300 parents and teachers there, I was tempted to drive back home. I didn't though, and my presentation and reading went well. I signed 45 copies of Names for Snow (all they had on hand - and I gave up the copy I read from and the organizer gave up her copy) and still some went away without. It was the closest I will ever be to being a rock star! This book thing is so interesting - how it has a life of its own, travels places I've never been, enters people homes I've never met and finds itself welcomed!

Looking forward to welcoming and being welcomed by women I've yet to meet at the summer conference.

May 17
Our weather is wet, wet but that makes the grass green, green.
I am deep into Skidmore prep and am excited about how the workshops are pulling together. A friend of mine, Linda Carpenter, is coming from Phoenix this year again. It'll be so good to see her. Her son and mine are best friends and Linda and I supported each other as we plowed through college as returning women.

August 10
Hi Elizabeth,
Well, today I finished winnowing blueberries for my friend who is in Houston receiving stem cell infusion for her ovarian cancer. I kept sending her healing thoughts the entire 3 pounds worth! Enjoy the night sky. The moon rises early but is so wonderful.

August 16
Greetings Hannelore and Elizabeth,
Yesterday as I sat in my writing nook adjacent to the kitchen, a hummingbird kept landing in the peach tree outside the window. There are no blossoms to feed her and no nest there. No reason at all for her to choose the branch closest to the window and preen. I've never seen a hummingbird preen before. So I took her presence to heart and borrowed some of her energy to finally finish writing this blurb and bio. A hard copy follows via escargot mail.

A glorious day today. The wild chamomile scents the air, and the fields are swaying with wild mustard, Queen Anne's lace and fireweed. The robins' nest in the rafters of the porch is empty, the young ones having learned to fly. As all our young do. Skyblue, cloudfree, and the soft song of the windchimes....

Wishing you the joys of summer.

August 29
Hannelore and Elizabeth,
Greetings from rain-soaked Maine where the gardeners are all smiling and the fair-workers are mumbling. This coming weekend the annual big event of the area, The Blue Hill Fair, will take place. Yes, we can see pigs and goats and cows and tractor pulls, homemade pies and jams, double yolked eggs, squash with two bodies and one stem, pie eating contests and skillet throws. And all the terrible fried foods you can imagine and a few you can't. Believe me!

August 31
I do not have the new membership brochures and would welcome some. I like to leave them around - libraries, restaurants - I think I told you I leave them with the tip - and in motel rooms when I travel - a bit like bread crumbs that I hope some hungry bird finds nourishment in.

I am aware of the shoestring that ties the Guild together and am grateful for its strength in spite of its thin financial construction. And I have read - with much interest - the 25th anniversary Remember the Magic book and wish I too could have known and studied with Ellen Resch.

I also want to have people thinking about ways to "take the magic home" from the Skidmore conference. To think of what ways they (who are in attendance) can best communicate this magical event. But of course it's not the event itself which is so magical, it is the people beginning with you, Hannelore and your vision which, fortunately runs in the family. It is a joy to work with Elizabeth, hardly work at all I don't think - she's that comfortable to me. And then there's the magic brought by the workshop leaders and the participants and there's the magic we all expect to experience there (both giving and receiving though we don't often see our own contribution) and it IS there because we expect it to be. Goodness knows the world can use more believers in Magic!

September 8
Perhaps the biggest gift I received this year at the Skidmore conference was from Jan Phillips who, in the lunchroom on Thursday, stopped me and said, "Judi, I don't want you to come to Skidmore next year without a book of your poetry. So I want to publish it." I was so dumbfounded I couldn't even demur. I just leaned into her shoulder and cried.

My favor to ask of you is, would you consider writing a blurb for the back cover? If so, would you like to read the entire manuscript? I know I am asking for time from you, Hannelore, and I know the value of time. But if I don't ask, you don't have a chance to say yes. And that is my mantra lately as you know.

October 10
Greetings Women of the Written Word,
At this time of year when day and night balance each other on the seesaw of Earth, when green seems too tired to climb into the leaves, when corn and tomatoes are consumed and canned and gardens are overrun with squash and pumpkins, when lawn chairs and backyard barbecues are marched indoors, after summer pulls us out and autumn draws us in, let us renew our commitment to our journals and computers, our stories and words. The Guild’s summer conference echoes in our bones. And for those not there, there is the dream of next year’s conference...

October 11
Jan Lawry was here for a few days and gave me a new and much fuller perception about the collection which helped me refine it.

The book is in 3 parts. The first pertains to moments in my childhood when I "saw the light." The second was about my lessons through my love and loss of Stew and the third was this catchall category of every other way in which I had seen the light and written about it. Now the first part remains the same, the second is the amorphous part and Stew the third. Jan saw that the 1st part was lessons learned and the second as ways I learned once I "broke" from family and the third (Stew) about application of all the lessons. There was no change in the poems except the ordering and so your beautiful and generous blurb is still most welcome and appropriate. Thank you again and again.

Today it feels like fall has finally come to Maine. Evenings I light the wood fire and that is enough to keep the warmth in the house. Everything is golden - all the birch leaves and beech trees and the honey gold of the oaks. Pumpkins sit on most stoops or guard the end of driveways like New England's version of lions. I made a grape pie from my own grapes and froze it for when my son comes to visit. This weekend, friends and I will make cider. It's in the air, this autumn, in woodsmoke and apples, in pumpkin spices and in bird-color which grays every day.

I hope, Hannelore, you know how many gifts women receive because of your vision and energy and through the sustained effort of you and Elizabeth Julia. So many gifts. SO many women. SO much gratitude.

October 17
Ritual Writing
If you light a candle to invite the muse, play music, pray for inspiration, rub the tusk of Ganesha or the belly of Buddha, use the computer or a favorite pen with a preferred tablet or journal (lined, unlined, perfect- or spiral-bound); if you need coffee at your elbow (or something stiffer); if you require a clean desk, an unplugged phone, or a certain time of day; if you surround yourself with quotes, milagros, totems or images meant to encourage creativity, your writing already has ritual. This workshop honors both the ritual of writing and the writing of ritual. Some practice exercises will ask you to experiment with language, and some will use elements of ritual as forms. This is a playful workshop meant to jiggle you out of your familiar writing habits with an open invitation to be surprised, amused or deeply moved.

December 14
We are spinning rapidly through the holidays. The last of my mailed packages has gone out earlier this week, and now I can concentrate on making the rounds of my neighborhood - delivering the apple butter and pumpkin bread I have made to some elderly neighbors and wrapping gifts for friends I will be seeing over the next couple of weeks.

I hope your holiday plans bring you closer to those you love and care about.


August 9
Did I share this with you? For the last 2 weeks a goldfinch has come to my front door and tapped on the window. He does this from around 10 AM until 2 PM. He hangs on the mullein and tap, tap, taps. I wish I knew Morse code.

September 12
Dear Regional Contact,
My back field is framed by spruce trees which lean toward deep blue this time of year. At one edge, a single maple tree is almost all red. Autumn is beginning its tour of Downeast Maine with clear, dry days, and nights whose temperatures are sliding toward the forties. This is my favorite time of year. The cooler air feels cleansing somehow. We are fast approaching the fall equinox when day and night shake hands and trade places as the earth tilts toward the winter solstice. It is a time of balance and reflection. When better to bring you news of the Guild?

September 17
Dear Hannelore,
I have just returned from Heidi Schultz's home where she hosted 6 Guild members for the weekend here in Maine. Perhaps your ears were burning as we were all singing the praises of each of you as well as the Guild. Before we dispersed this afternoon, I asked each woman if she knew the others before the Guild's conference brought us together. Anne Walradt and I had been colleagues and that is how Anne first came to the Guild, and Marsha Brown and Heidi are long time friends. But Paula Scardamalia, Zita Christian and Judy Huge had no connections beforehand to any of us. I raised my calendula (the flower I chose for our wonderful closing ritual presided over by Zita) and we all saluted you both in gratitude and love for bringing each other into our lives.

The magic continues.

September 24
Greetings Sisters in the service of Guild Magic,
In Sanskrit, satsang is a word combining satya (truth) and sangha (group). It most often denotes a gathering for spiritual truth with a guru or spiritual mentor, but it also applies to any group in which participants inspire each other and express truth without judgment. In my opinion, observance and experience, any gathering in the spirit of the Guild is, then, a satsang – even our Kitchen Tables and Clusters.

There is sanctity in a congregation of women who are willing to write the truth of their lives, and especially so if the women have a commitment to the group. This is why it is necessary for members of our Kitchen Tables to be members of the Guild as well. If we want to enjoy the fruit of the Guild’s work, which is to gather and empower women through their words, then we must be willing to show our gratitude.

The Guild is not a large corporate entity, it is not underwritten by a huge bequest, it is not frivoling its money on the unnecessary middle-management rungs of a ladder. It is the dream of one woman vacuuming which has proved to be the dream of many women vacuuming, building, mothering, waitressing, volunteering, clerking, teaching, nursing, cleaning, and working at anything that gives her a life. The dream is of discovering or maintaining the value of that life through her creativity...

Last week my son told me he asked his beloved to marry him, and she said yes. Even though I have known and enjoyed her for two years, I saw this as an opportunity to show her how pleased I was, so I immediately wrote a short email welcoming her to the family. When she called she was a bit weepy and said she didn’t know how to adequately tell me what that small gesture meant to her. Imagine what it could mean to a woman to feel so welcomed into the satsang of the Guild by your personal note.


September 14
Dear Hannelore,
How Far Light Must Travel is a blessing that I know will open new doors for me and I am eager to see what lies beyond. Again, thank you for your support and adding my name to the April 14, 2008 author roster.

November 8
Just wanted you to know How Far Light Must Travel is officially launched. It might be a busy winter! Jan Phillips (bless her) pulled me into the 21st century by conducting a tele-interview - a first for me - which will be available soon on my brand new website ( which just has the home page up right now and more pages on the way. And this morning I was one of three guests on The Writer's Forum at WERU. My publisher, John Daniels, also informed me he has nominated the entire first section of the book for a Pushcart Prize. I am so honored, so humbled and so privileged to have working for/with me people who believe in my work. I'm spinning with the wonder of it. And I am grateful for the Guild who has supported my work all along and to Hannelore, Myra Shapiro and Jan Phillips for the wonderful blurbs they gave me. Thank you, thank you.

December 14
Winter white greetings, Elizabeth,
The snow has refreshed itself overnight and we have 2 more pristine inches. It's quite beautiful really. No wind so the snow clings to every branch of every tree.

March 31
Went to the ER again Thursday for severe pain and was admitted for overnight. Tests are coming back negative which is good and the liver biopsy was inconclusive. Still haven't named it and therefore have no treatment. I have an app't with my doctor tomorrow to look at all tests and results and figure out what comes next.

Please hold me in your healing thoughts.

April 4
Greetings Elizabeth,
Here is another Guild inquiry I received. The 2nd biopsy yesterday was a bit more tiring than the first but I am hoping it yields answers. I hope you have a good turnout for Val-Kill this weekend. I know Jan Lawry is looking forward to it.

Be well. Laugh often.

No comments: