September 14, 2014

Sunday Quote

We work in the dark - we do what we can - we give what we have.  Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task.  The rest is the madness of art.

- Henry James

September 7, 2014

Dear Tall Blonde Mommy (in lieu of Sunday Quote)

Dear Tall Blonde Mommy,

We were walking our little dog up our quiet street on a hot and quiet Sunday afternoon today and on the way back he started choking and shuddering, something he has been doing lately.  We moved him into the shade and tried to calm him down.  He threw up a little bit but still seemed like he was having problems.  Scary as it brings back memories of our other little black dog, Moky, who died so young of undiagnosed until too late cancer.  We tried to hurry home and at our driveway was stopped by you, tall blonde mommy in a long skirt with your four very blonde children. 

You urged one forward, the oldest girl, who nervously came onto my driveway thrusting papers in my face - the kind where you sign up to buy something.  My dog went ballistic, which he does on his own property when strangers come up,  and I said quickly, sorry, he isn't friendly, as a quick explanation as my husband was forced to yank him up the driveway.  I went to help him, turning away but saying (politely, if you recall) "sorry, no thank you." to your daughter.  My husband led our dog up the driveway, both of us upset the dog had been riled when we had wanted him calm.

You proceeded to yell at me.  Stood in front of my driveway, dramatically waving your arms.  Saying how I am a horrible person for not letting your daughter speak.  That I could have at least listened to what she said.  What kind of world is this?  No wonder my dog is unfriendly since I am such a hateful and horrible human being.  You added that you were not selling anything and if I had only listened to your daughter I would know you are collecting money for a charity.

I was shocked.  I said how I said, sorry, no thank you and we are just trying to get our dog inside.  You continued. How you will never come to our door again when you come to this street, how you will mark us as the people who hate children, how she will warn her children away from us etc. as we are bad, bad people.

The entire time, your children were staring at you.  I am curious.  What lesson were you trying to teach here? 

You proceeded to go door to door.  When you came out from soliciting our elderly neighbors, all your kids stopped and pointed at my husband in our driveway who was getting something from his car.  Pointed.  You stopped and said something to them.  Gave him an angry glance.  I saw this from the kitchen window. 

I have no idea who you are.  I have never seen you before.  Hope I don't see you again.  I was left very upset by this verbal attack in my front yard.  My husband was thoroughly disgusted by your behavior.  Helicopter parenting at its worse, he commented.

I guess you think you are teaching them some civic lesson, something about community and charity.  Hard to tell.  Since what you actually are teaching them is to not respect privacy or private property or people's rights, that it is okay to door to door and ask for money in a strange neighborhood (which is illegal by the way, which I know because I called and asked, and besides that, entirely unsafe), that it is fine to go up to people you don't know and assume your wants outweigh theirs, that it is fine to upset people to get what you want.  That it is okay to parade your children around to prove what a great Mom or human being you are.  A humanitarian collecting for charity.

Dear Tall Blonde Mommy, it's a gorgeous day.  Take those kids to the park and let them enjoy one of the perfect last days of summer.  Don't make your oldest daughter uncomfortable and feel weird by asking strangers for money.  If you need to raise money for a charity, have a garage sale or a cake bake in your front yard, a lemonade stand for charity or they could donate old toys or ask friends and relatives (sorry, folks!), but don't solicit perfect strangers in their front yards or ring their bells.  

But sadly, you are probably on your phone right now ranting about your version of this encounter, how the world is a terrible place because of people like my husband and myself.

Whirled Peas, Lady.

September 3, 2014

Southern Magnolia outside the Edward Gorey Museum

Everything is sweetened by risk.
- Melissa Sweet, author and illustrator

August 28, 2014

Moky, a good dog, remembered

I found this just last night when I was searching in old computer files for something else.  This beautiful member of our family died several years ago.  I don't even remember writing this, it was a sad time as he was unexpectedly very sick and his death was shocking.  We had two wonderful dogs, Moky and Emmy, both gone and missed.  Moky was my daughter's best friend and he adored her.  No dog has ever loved anyone more.  It is the hardest thing about dogs, that their life span is so terribly short. 

I thought about editing this piece and making it into more of a poem but then I thought, no, let it remain what it is, a heartfelt letter to our beloved boy.

For Moky

I never knew how hard you worked
how extensive your job was
meeting each pair of feet as they climbed out of bed into the morning
already up, having made the rounds of the house,
sniffed each door and inspected the carpet
for any crumbs from the evening before.
I never knew how you followed my footsteps, unnoticed
as a shadow until I turned and tripped,
how you took my outbursts of temper without blame
or accusation, how you ran down the driveway to greet me
your whole body wriggling in joy just that I was home
You were so good at your work, it went largely unnoticed,
we focused more on your clowning skills, inadvertant though they were
the way you hid under the dining room table if you thought you had been bad,
rolling in the perfume ads that we pulled from magazines, the last time you did that
I thought I should film it for posterity, but I didn't because there would surely be a next time.
I thought you a lazy and loved, indulged even, type of dog the way you jumped in my lap
and snuggled in next to me, like I was letting you get away with something even though now
I realize how much comfort you gave with your presence.  How every doorbell ring, every visitor, every rabbit in the yard, squirrels, birds, cats, got your fierce attention, how every thing was greeting with a mix of passion and friendliness and happiness.  I never realized how much a part of your work was happiness, the carrier of it, the way you pulled everyone out of themselves or an iffy or bad day and made us focus on you, your canine joy, your bliss at the crisp autumn scented wind, the piles and drifts of snow taller than you, the way the slate walk warms in the spring sun, perfect for sleeping.
I find myself looking at the season approaching, the unfolding of summer, a good season for dogs, but how it all feels terrible without you, curled in the back garden, a flower folded without hope of sun, and I wish I knew how to tell you thank you for your enormous gift of a job well done, noticed in every moment now that there is no one who can take your place.


August 24, 2014

Sunday Quote

            A Brief for the Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

- Jack Gilbert, A Brief for the Defense.  Refusing Heaven.

Sent from my iPad=

August 7, 2014

Sunday Quote both late and early

Teach me, O God, not to torture myself, not to make a martyr out of myself through stifling reflection, but rather teach me to breathe deeply in faith.

- Soren Kierkegaard

July 31, 2014

Beach Day

very cranky seagull who was hanging around obviously peturbed about something (perhaps our lack of snacks?) who looked quite strange when he decided to take a small nap, head tucked under wing but eye wide open. 
what is better than a great companion at the beach? 

a drive around the Greenwich Park, just beautiful, and then the sunset....mostly golden light, God loved the sailors this evening.


July 21, 2014

Sunday Quote slightly late

The beginning is always today.

- Mary Wollstonecraft

July 13, 2014

Sunday Quote

People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved. 

- Anne Sullivan

July 5, 2014

Serendipity in the form of kabooming light

Stayed home with summer cold and missed the fireworks...well...not quite.  Brilliant surprise down the street, just glorious. 

Happy Independence Day!

June 29, 2014

Sunday Quote

Nothing can be more useful to you than a determination not to be hurried.

- Henry David Thoreau

June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there!

Love the alert Father stance in the third photo.  He's been a wonderful Dad swan protecting the eggs and his bride and the little ones as best he can.  Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there in all kinds of families, and to my own wonderful husband and Dad to my kids - thanks for being on this long parenting journey with me (to quote the great Jerry - "what a long, strange trip it's been").

June 1, 2014

Sunday Quote

And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly.  Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.  Our sense, restored, never to be then same, whisper to us. They existed.  They existed.  We can be.  Be and be better.  For they existed.

 - Maya Angelou

May 30, 2014

Looks like Spring is going to stick around...

Between the Rhododendrens and the Wisteria, and my mother's day garden, it's beautiful here.  A brief storm late tonight, the wind roaring through the trees, the lovely wind on leaves sound, the rain pinging off of everything then turning into a drenching downpour mimicking the roar of the ocean if you closed your eyes....ah, the season is upon us, Spring to spill into Summer.  Yes, yes, yes.

May 19, 2014

Experiment 3

A house that should live in the forest, maybe with some magical bears.   Hmmm, is the app what was required? Experiment on phone wrapped.

Experiment 2

Photo option again an absolute fail.  And so small. Frustration.
  Can only get old photo and why is it snowing?


Trying to post from ipad. Unsuccessful photos...hmmm

April 29, 2014

Wind back to February

We left mid-February not expecting warm - we had planned to go and then reports were of unusual coldness in South Carolina and impending snow storms (on top of several inches previously deposited) in our town....we decided to go anyway after much debating and initially deciding it would be foolish to go.  But then we realized how bummed we would be if we stayed home and decided if Jet Blue was flying, so were we - so the morning we left South Carolina declared a state of emergency - and a day or so in - they got nearly twenty inches of snow back home in New York.  They were snowbound - and we had no snow, very little ice, just cold.  Well, more like COLD. 

Cold with palm trees.  Cold with people not used to cold or ice or snow so what seemed like nothing to us was unreal to them.  Everything was shut down the day we came in except the airport, hotels, and restaurants.  People were walking around in layers of light clothes - we were from snowbound NY, we had snowboots, parkas, polertec!  So we were toasty even though now when we ask about the weather in our house and if it is particularly chilly with a bite in it, we refer to that as "You know, like South Carolina cold". 

The lighthouse out on Hunting Island.  The outlines of the old buildings from a distance looked like bocce courts to me.  Yeah, um, no.  It was beautiful everywhere we went.  Going places off season is nothing new for us, we have gone to Cape Cod in early icy April (you have no crowds, great heated hotel pools, and stark gorgeous scenery - also clam chowder never tastes better than when it's cold).
We went to Maine in a post season very brisk October - and instead of summer tourists we had pretty great Halloween decorations, no crowds, and ...well, clam chowder, encore).  Florida in July (not as bad as you think), North Carolina in August (again, not uncomfortable).What did we get in South Carolina?  Amazing juxtapositions like peonies blooming out of frozen dirt, Spanish moss frosted.  Seeing how southerners rise to the occasion of inclement weather with grace and patience.  And the onion soup in the Charleston French Restaurant after walking in cold rain was divine.

great freezing cold walk down a long pier - the Nature Center at the end was closing but looked like it had some very nice offerings. 

Another couple were walking on the pier with my frozen husband and myself, they were kind enough to call us over as we were leaving to point out this little fellow in the marsh grass hunting for his supper.  They were from Virginia and told us tales of the frozen weather there...well, here it is late April and I have the house heater on so I guess we are still not out of it yet.   Bet it's a lot warmer now though in South Carolina.