Monday, October 31, 2011

FIELD NOTES: Trick or treat...

...has pretty much been the theme of the entire year, but it is especially true after this record-breaking weekend. Our class jack-o-lantern expresses my feelings accurately enough! Throughout the afternoon and night, continual cracking and thudding kept me on alert and indoors. It was nature's battle and all we humans could do was take cover. It sounded like a snowball fight on the roof...or ammo...trees fell like soldiers being after another. I appreciate my lessons from nature...this one demonstrated the power of small things in large numbers...think of each leaf catching wet, heavy snow and multiply that by hundreds...thousands...there aren't usually leaves on the trees when we get 15" of snow (needled trees have the better design for this) pressed me to think further...a penny, a pushup, an Occupier on Wall Street...none represent much by themselves...neither do votes...except when you add them all up, which may be the hardest part of all...


...not so lucky.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

FIELD NOTES: Now that it is long past, I can write about it...

…the month of August that is. It is not the Ides of March the soothsayer warns to me, but the Ides of August!...and perhaps the Kalends and the Nones of August as well. I do not approach its advent with predictions of calamity like a horoscope, omen or phase of the moon…I am naturally optimistic and hopelessly hopeful…but yet it comes. What used to be a month full of weddings, births, a summer fling squeezed out before going back to school, is now pock-marked with deaths of friends, parents, emergencies and the destruction of property from hurricanes and floods. But I cannot stay angry long at nature. It is human nature that assigns to us our curses.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

FIELD NOTES: Check out these Celebrity tomatoes!

I finally grew some big tomatoes! What a satisfying reward after blizzard, tornado, earthquake and hurricane! DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FIELD NOTES: Life's still a beach...

...Is this the old idea that you only notice more red cars on the road after you buy a red car? Is there more news about beaches lately...or do I just have beaches on my mind? I don't think it really matters...being aware, being engaged, is what perpetuates the things that really matter to you...the things you love...

NYT BOOKS ON SCIENCE: Shorelines, Sandy or Otherwise, That May Not Last

Thursday, August 11, 2011

FIELD NOTES: In a way...the beach still lingers...

...a week later....still in my on the way down, I noticed interesting little shops & on the way back, I didn't need to stop anywhere...because I still remember how it felt to have everything I needed...with a way...

DONATE to drowning victim Rocky Daddio

Thursday, August 4, 2011

FIELD NOTES: It wasn't just a day at the beach....

...I haven’t been to this sort of beach in a very long time…so, like someone who doesn’t know when they are thirsty, I begin to drink…the moment I open the door from the air-conditioned car, I smell the Sound...I smell the coconut of sun lotion…I turn my face to the Long Island breeze as if there are Sirens haunting Charles Island…and if I were not so sane and responsible, I might have just wandered off, leaving the car door agape, my bag spilling out…but my intent is to use a good summer’s day to cleverly study for my Child Development Psychology relaxation...good for my concentration...motivation…I used to do this in a different age…the time travel makes me smile…reflexively…how old am I?...if you ask me, I will have to think about it…on my right a young couple spoons under an umbrella, behind me three college girls chat with immediacy, to my left a large extended family sets up: squeezing-squealing- settling down…and down in front are boys and girls and babies in the surf….each time has its beauty, each time overlaps in this one place…the beach

See this post in poetry form: Silver Sands


Sunday, March 13, 2011

FIELD NOTES: when the enormity of nature...

...requires the acuity of haiku.

Sunday Afternoon at Harrybrooke
Geese swim where lawn grew.
Walk? Melting flood, but......Japan!
My troubles: puddle.

Unbelievable footage of Japanese tsunami 03/11/11

Sunday, February 20, 2011

FIELD NOTES: Everyone's talking about it....

...winter, that is…particularly this one…as if something ripped open the canopy we call sky at the start of the year and its contents has been hemorrhaging ever since. Going on history, this is usually followed by a rise in temperature and lots of rain. With no rest for the weary, we put down our shovels and took up our tools and machines to remove ice dams and uncover drains and although Mother Nature is still acting as strict as a British nanny, she has also shown temperance, rocking us back and forth between snow and sun, wind and warmth, sparing us the road-closing flooding. But I don’t mind a ‘good hunkering down’ as I did last Sunday night with Chinese take-out of hot & sour soup and vegetable lo-mein in front of PBS’s Nature episode of The Himalayas…spiritually sensual, beautiful, ancient and new, reflective, personal in interpretation, unique. In the act of creating - whether it be written, sung or performed - we strive to produce something unique, but sometimes finding a human collectiveness is just as heady. I noticed the snow level around my house going down, the tops of things vegetable and mineral reappearing, as well as newspapers and fast food containers along the road…and on last night’s Prairie Home Companion, so did Garrison Keillor make note of candy wrappers and trash, the snow shovel you’d thought you’d lost revealing itself on your neighbor’s lawn…we seem to all be finding sunken treasure…

PBS Nature: The Himalayas
Full Episode

Sunday, February 6, 2011

FIELD NOTES: Crazy Winter Caption Contest

...can't think of a prize, but just for the fun of it....

Disclaimer: No squirrels were harmed in this photo. It's a plastic solar one from Home Depot that sits in my perennial garden atop a faux-bicycle plant stand.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Story of Thanksgiving for Christmas...or The 1st Thanksgiving:

Navigating new territory with no device on the dash...

             It is not until I come up to that familiar hill that the idea of it all strikes me; I am going to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving, as usual…but, there will be no parents there. I have an inkling that perhaps a professional colleague was right: maybe don’t go there…order a package deal from the grocery store…or go out? “Or hop a cruise ship and eat Spam?” I replied with tongue in cheek. But my youngest brother had suggested “the house” (which now legally belongs to my oldest brother) and so I took great pains for the day, trying to think of everything my mother would have thought of…and the men would not…and then some:

            I had started with what I knew best: pies. There was Mom’s “secret” piecrust recipe for my homemade mince that my oldest brother anticipates yearly, and my crumb-topped French apple and the pumpkin adorned with shiny hand-cut leaves. They turned out to be works of art this year – inspiration from heaven. The second thing I knew best: ambiance (my brothers told me it was all mine!). I inherited the family silver, but all the china remained at the house. Tablecloth? Centerpiece? Candles? Napkins? Condiments? Servers and potholders and pots and pans? A mixer, a masher, a gravy boat? My list was sounding like an old-fashioned nursery rhyme and I packed it all up like a Conestoga wagon with cloth carry bags and baskets and Rubbermaid containers.  Like moving up a company ladder - ready or not - I found my usually relaxed pace of a holiday morning transfigured and I would not know until I got there if I had packed too little…or too much…

            I arrive at the house; my brother says he spent the entire day yesterday vacuuming and dusting. The dining table is out; its brown table pads are lying naked like a patient waiting to be attended to. My tablecloths are too short for the leaves - my brother doesn’t know where Mom’s tablecloths are – but like experienced stagehands, my elder son and I make scenery appear. I go to my mother’s kitchen, her cabinets still familiar to me even after all these years, albeit my brother has had the fortitude to throw out the burnt, the broken, and the hopelessly obsolete. I discover that somehow, as the only daughter of an only daughter, instincts and tradition suddenly kick in on automatic pilot. And without much compunction, I ease in some changes. I stand at my mother’s sink peeling organic yellow potatoes, smiling about how hers were lumpy and ordinary because they were too-much-work-why-else-would-they-have-figured-out-how-to-put-them-in-a-box? She also puzzled annually about how to keep food warm at the table, but eschewed my idea of purchasing warming dishes like she was going to come up with an easier way for an easier way without buying something new. As if to tease my critiquing, a little gray mouse motored across the floor but I chided him in return by informing him I used coupons to buy the warming dishes…so there!
            What’s more, I tell the mouse, I have been kindly ushered in by strangers to this new way of celebrating holidays. At Bed, Bath and Beyond, I had circled around the island display of serving dishes, electric and candle-powered, setting my sights on a white ceramic set that matched my French White Corning ware at home. They would be perfect – and practical enough for Mom – but the shelf was empty. A store worker came by and seemed only too glad to help. He searched around the stock shelves, wheeled two over and gave me the cart. My face must have lit up; I thanked him and he added cheerfully “It was my pleasure! I hope you enjoy your holiday!” which is what I expect store workers are trained to do, but he appeared much more sincere than that. Then, at the grocery store, as close to Thanksgiving as I dared, the path to the deli was gridlocked, an elderly woman was proceeding like a slow-moving vehicle in a passing lane because another pair of women were chatting obliviously on the shoulders; the man that had entered the store about the same time I did joined in this bumper car venue along with me. He edged his way to the number dispenser, pulled out a tag, turned around and handed it to me with a smile. I was taken aback, not by his action, but by the doubt that perhaps I had not appeared as outwardly phlegmatic as I had thought. With straightened shoulders, I put in my deli order expediently. Later, while looking over the squash, the man touched me on the shoulder and with his well-padded cheeks up to his eyebrows, said “You have a nice holiday now.” Two men, two different skin colors, neither one with mien that would turn a lady’s head, perhaps appearing like Clarence Oddbodies to remind me of something lost.
            At the end of the day, nothing important is lost. After a cooperative (if not disquieting) search it is my oldest son who triumphantly holds up the yellow gravy boat from where my mother had put it last. I remember to check the high cabinet in the stairwell for the tablecloths. And like new heirs we sit in our parents’ chairs: one brother in my father’s, I in my mother’s.  We say grace and most heartily thank our parents for being our parents. My grandmother would promise every year to do something in the next, God-willing, and with a collective, not-evolved-yet groan, we would push her crystallizing words away like a snowball down a hill, not cognizant that she was (in her very Polish way) molding a handle for us to take with natural grace. We start passing plates; I am here by inertia, like a vending product filling the empty slot up front.
            There is one more thing to do. The dishwasher conked out long ago, my parents believing a new one at that point in their lives unnecessary, and I ceremoniously wash the china and silverware in the sink, distracting my brother with small-talk. My mother shooed away would-be assistants, and I remember seeing her back as she faced the yellow-flowered wallpaper under the fluorescent light in an almost meditative glow. What did she think about?
            I am warm with satisfaction on the drive home. I think about doing a good thing for my brothers. I think about getting this first holiday “just right”. I think about my parents giving us the thumbs up.
            I can’t think any farther than that…