Picture This



Remember the ad that Kodak ran, “the moments of our lives”?  Kodak left for a while, but then turned around, came back, and took another picture of itself, this time digitalized.  And so we all became part of the world of personal photographers who chronical our “moments” for posterity, in perpetuity, forever, in “The Cloud”, wherever that really is.  We point and click, and download and upload.  There is no end to what we can take a picture of from a piece of clothing we want our friend to comment on “should I buy it?” to a street sign that captures something funny, to our children, grandchildren, or the license plate of the person who took our parking space, intentionally.   

There are the posed pictures, the imposed pictures “Smile!  Dammit!” as well as the unintentional pictures of our thumbs and the floor.  I have quite a few of those which I look at for any artistic merit before I put them in the little trash pail icon on my phone.  In my imagination, I envision a cartoon which has the Statue of Liberty surrounded by a mass of people whose faces we cannot see because instead they have a cell phone “photoshopped”  where their faces would be.  We are our iPhones/cameras.  We see through a lens,not just metaphorically, but through the viewfinders of our phones.  

The last significant scenic vacation that my FHB and I travelled was to Norway and Denmark.  The first several days of travel, I chronicled the trip through video and iPhone.  In order to actually get a sense of what I was seeing, I had to remember it via the video and still pictures.  Somehow that seemed wrong.  I felt that I didn’t actually “see” anything.  I didn’t feel the expanse of the mountains or glaciers.  I didn’t get the magnitude of the beauty of Bergen and the fjords because I was not memorializing the pictures in my mind, but rather on my phone.  

Technology is amazing and it has so many tools that we benefit by having access to.  Yet it does not replace our interactions with nature or people, up close and personal, and especially face to face.  I’ve put down the camera at times when I want to take a picture in my mind, and be part of the moment, in the moment.  A picture may be worth a thousand words, and yet some of those words are worth hearing as the person looks at you,  faces you,  and sees your response to something they say.  Something clicks inside us and we don’t need a button to see it.



I’ve felt tired and uninspired, which seems a bit Carole King-ish.  Then, my mood lifted and I found my inspiration.  She arrived via a documentary “RBG” and for those of us who don’t usually think of the Supreme Court Justices by their initials alone, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is the consummate rock star.  Her power transcends the bench.  Somehow, this small,older woman, is a connector between generations as well as with minorities.  Her vision of injustice is crystal clear.  My FHB and I went in to the theater with few expectations and came away feeling as though we had attended a musical and left singing her praises.  In a land which has more recently been confused by verbiage, innuendo and scary scenarios, we need someone like RBG to secure our belief that might and right will outlive fright.  She demonstrated that if you are stalwart in your belief about us all being equal in opportunity based on which the doctrines of our land was created, then the answer makes sense.  

To see her in the context of daughter, wife, mother and grandmother, as well as in her role as student, attorney and judge, makes her all the more human. She is loved and loveable.  Her humor and wit make her charming.   We need her compassion and wisdom to guide us.  The fact that she is all of the above, and more, makes her a natural treasure.  Don’t rush off, RGB. We need you now, more than ever.

P.S.  I have decided that this coming summer, reading the constitution will be good for my health.  

Then and now and in between


The picture is about thirty-four years ago.   My mother and  my oldest son.  He’s about four in the picture and she’s about sixty.  Two of the people closest to my heart.  Yesterday was the Yahrzeit (memorial date) of my mother’s passing.  Tomorrow is the ninth Mother’s Day without her.  It is also my half birthday.  My mother was the woman who taught me to celebrate this day in my life among others.  I like to wish happy Half Birthday to people.  I like to have them know that it is a midpoint in our years and something to be acknowledged.  I can’t actually remember what she did to celebrate it with me and I don’t think it included a card because she was frugal and half a card would have been a waste.  She might have made me a card or made me a cake.  I wish I could remember the details.  Instead, I remember the sentiment.

My mother took a lot of ordinary moments and made them special.  Traditions are important and mark the passage of time.  My son is a father to a two year old daughter.  He has learned to celebrate the big days and mark the little ones.  Parenting is challenging and rewarding and somewhere in the middle.  We try to do our best and give our best and impact our children’s days with lots of good moments.  We watch them become their best selves. We deserve a day to honor our accomplishments and the days  in between we get to continue the work, behind the scenes.  We often “mother others”.   To our moms, our children, and ourselves, Happy Mother’s Day.

And they’re off!


Tomorrow is the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.  I have to say that somehow I have watched the race on television many times, over the past years.  I don’t know anything about betting.  I generally will “pick” the winner because I like the color of the horse or the horse’s name.  I’ve never been to a horse race in my life but I bet I would like it, if it wasn’t for all the people and I wouldn’t want to wear a big hat.  I am not a hat person and never have been.  In the winter I won’t cover my head and in the summer, the hats never fit well. I have a rather small head, by circumference, and hats just fly off.

However,  I may be wearing a big brimmed hat in the near future because of a recent event that may necessitate wearing big dark sunglassesin addition to a hat.  Perhaps that will draw more attention that I actually want, but I am a bit concerned about concealing my latest mishap.  It is hardly a problem in the first world problem mindset, and yet I am somewhat embarrassed to even bring it up.  Age has actually allowed me to get over being embarrassed fairly quickly and shift to peals of laughter instead, at myself.  My thought is, if something I do makes me laugh, that is actually a good thing.  If it makes someone else laugh, that would be the bonus to a silly, stupid error in judgment.

Last night after a series of long days which lasted into the evenings, I thought I would do some facial grooming, specifically to my eyebrows.   I was tired, which is a chronic issue so I wasn’t paying as much attention as usual, to the task at hand.  My eyebrows, as I age, have taken on a Groucho Marx like growth and as a refined woman, I take care of them, to not frighten small children but to have the look of the right curve and control.  My thought is if I can’t control the hips, the eyebrows must be managed.  But I digress…. I purchased a handy dandy device that grooms and shapes and kind of shaves to even them.  I clearly was not schooled in the actual process of how to do this, but in my usual devil may care “how difficult can this be?” attitude, I took off my glasses and turned the little groomer and aimed above my right eye.  Now, I need to report that without my glasses I can’t really see much.  When people approach me, while my glasses are off, I smile a genuine smile but until they are within about four feet of me, I am not always sure who the smile is at.  Hence (such an underused word), when I attempted to trim, I ended up shaving off half of the eyebrow.  I heard buzzzz and thought, and may have even said out loud “UH-OH!”.  I quickly put my glasses back on and took a look.  It was a non-religious “HOLY CRAP” moment.  I didn’t panic.  I just got up close in the mirror and stared.  It looked so weird.  I thought to myself that this is one of those out of body moments.  I know it is me, but is it really me?  It was and is me.  For a millisecond, I thought, should I do the same on the left or am I completely out of my mind?  I got a grip and decided that leaving it alone and trying to mitigate the damage was probably the best tack.  I was unclear as to what that might be, but washing my face, and turning off all the lights and going to sleep, would allow me time to see if it was just a dream.  So, that’s what I did.  I woke in the morning and re-evaluated my options.  I dried my hair after showering and put on some make-up (on my face) and my glasses on my nose and went to work.  No one noticed.  I came home and my FHB didn’t notice.  Are people blind or polite?  Not quite sure.  The missing half eyebrow is my reality.  Perhaps I will start a trend.  My bet on the Derby is Good Magic. Have you seen his eyebrows?

Making Smiles

This was a re-entry week after school vacation. Somehow, the time until we sing “School’s Out for Summer”, seems interminable. Thus, I had to have a project to start this exodus off on the right foot. Before school break,  one of our lovely teachers approached me and told me that she had seen a notice in her town  website, offering some prom dresses.  She responded and said that she would happily take them since she works in a community where money is tight and dreams don’t come true easily.  In addition to that, she put out a wish for more dresses.  If you wish upon a website, the universe, a.k.a. the internet responds, or at least in this case.  One of those “if you build it, they will come ” moments.  And so it began.

I put out a poster advertising “Pop Up Prom Shop” and we had morning announcements reminding the junior and seniors that with a ticket from their guidance counselors, they could shop for dresses, gowns, shoes and bags, with some bling thrown in.  We ran the “pop up” shop for three days.  We had accumulated 175 dresses, some that were never worn, with tags still on them. We had  shoes, all sizes and styles, including some stilettos heels which made some of our shoppers squeal with delight.  We had sequined handbags and waterfall earrings.  We set up a dressing area and had a  full length mirror so that our girls could try on and model the dresses for one another.  We had  dresses, the colors of the rainbow, and sizes for everyone.  We are an economically challenged community where going to the prom is not a sure thing because money is not available for the extras and first and foremost, that might be the dress.

When Monday arrived, after a week away, we got to work. The space had been booked, the dresses moved by our custodians. The “dressing room” was fashioned with three room dividers.  We had chairs and the mirror.  We turned a spartan, utilitarian room into a bit of a “salon” and we waited.  Staff showed up to help set up and to help our shoppers find something to choose.

There were tentative knocks on the slightly opened door that had the sign for our Prom Shop.  The girls entered and watching them shyly ask if “this was the place” brought the realization that there were a lot of Cinderellas looking to say yes to the dress.  They arrived in pairs, as they always seem to do.  We welcomed them with a little bit of “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” and showed them the racks and racks and tables of dresses.  There was magic in the air (or it was the sunshine finally coming through the windows).  They helped one another choose something as they twirled and walked in the very, very high heels.  The moment when they appeared transformed from blue jeans to ball gowns and gazed at themselves in the mirror was magical.  Once they had picked the dress, it was carefully placed in a long bag and handed to them over their outstretched arm and they each walked a little taller , with shoulders back and chins up.

My favorite moment was when one of our special needs girls came down with her paraprofessional.  She approached me with her ticket in hand and although she doesn’t speak much, her eyes spoke volumes as she looked at the dresses.  I asked her what her favorite color was and she said “blue” in the meekest of voices.  I went to the racks and showed her several dresses.  She picked one with some sparkly fabric and she and the woman who escorts her around the school went into the dressing area.  Moments passed and she appeared in one of the dresses. I brought her to the mirror.  I asked her “who is that beautiful girl in the mirror?” and she smiled and said in a much louder voice “That’s me!”.  Another princess, another dream come true.  It just doesn’t get much better.


Toll Taking


This past Monday marked the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon.  The recommendation is to prepare over twenty weeks until the culmination of the race itself. I don’t pretend to want to run a marathon, although my  nighttime dreams for many years, have contained parts when  I was running like a young gazelle through the grasslands and savannas of Africa.  Since I have had both knees replaced within the past fourteen years, I have been discouraged by the medical minds to not consider running for any reason, but rather to walk and  try and not fall down.

I look back on the past several weeks of not writing this blog as having had to take a break from what was an emotional marathon culminating in the end of my FHB’s treatment for prostate cancer.  In the days and weeks following the months of tests and treatments, the reality of the energy we both exerted, each in a different arena, ran out and it was time to rest our brains and our hearts and recalibrate our lives.  As an observer and participant in the process of not only my FHB but others I counsel, I recognize that the aftermath of the process is also something to be reckoned with.  I have been dog tired.

The cadence of the past weeks must be reviewed.  Cancer was in the forefront for several months. It was the melody. It now becomes the backdrop, like the harmony, not forgotten, but woven more into the complexities of day to day.  It has its tone, but it is no longer the prominent theme.  We are getting back to the mundane life we enjoy.  The routines of  errands and work mixed with concerts, and lots of music blend with family time and plans for travel and moments that sustain us.  It certainly is a life lesson in what to pay attention to and what to let go of.  No one invites illness. It just arrives and often overstays its welcome.  We are lucky to have shown it the door.

I have to stop holding my breath and stop asking my FHB how he’s doing.  Allowing us both to get on with life is part of regaining control, for the moment. I have to stop staring at him (without his knowing) and start walking and not fall down.  I’ve missed the time I took off from doing this writing, as it was, and is, a way to focus on my thoughts and share them with the universe (not that I have such a following).  Regaining my sense of humor and impulsive thoughts in the moment and having an opportunity to write, twice a week is the end goal.  Hope to see you here again real soon.