Au revoir, for now…

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On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”

 

Next week, I celebrate my 66th birthday.  Even to me that sounds like quite a big number. Although that  is probably less than the number of eyelashes (my own) I have to count on both eyes, I’m guess-timating since  I have never done that.  I googled “How many eyelashes does the average woman have?” the answer is “The number of eyelashes on each lid range widely as the top eyelid usually accommodates approximately 150 to 200 individual hairs, while the bottom eyelid may have somewhere between 75 and 100 hairs”. 66  seems like a big number.  Inside, I have adjusted my mental age to about 36 or 37.  I used to think I was 34, so I know I am aging.  I don’t think too much about what 66 represents because it is fact, based on my driver’s license, ability to get full Social Security benefits, and a boatload of memories, experiences, moments of regret, moments of total amazement, and a legacy of offspring and their offspring that I can hold and love and watch time move along.  I can count my blessings and they outnumber my years and the stars in the sky.  I’ve known love and I know love every day.   No complaints, whatsoever.  I am a lucky human.

The cartoon above was in my office for as long as I worked in my job as a school social worker and probably it travelled with me from a previous job.  I just felt that it was ironic, amusing and represented the world, our world, and the mystery of the internet.  The internet has allowed me, among others, to bring my thoughts to an audience of often like-minded people (or maybe dogs, or cats…as the saying goes).  I always have written for myself first because I like releasing my thoughts into the air, like feathers found which escape my couch cushions, random and attached to nothing, allowed to free float until they land once again, perhaps near a reader or feather admirer.

This blog has been my creation for almost five years, although the first entry, sat alone, unanswered, somewhat stuck, until the following year when it was launched in earnest. I re-read the second “first entry” “It’s better to be the first elephant in the parade”.  I still like it and remember it and  it makes me smile.  My content over the last five years evoked my memories of my family of origin, my current family constellation, injustice, questions that I ask of myself and the world at large, with ongoing recognition that I have more questions that answers but I believe I am not alone in that.  I observed where I live and embraced home on many levels.  I laugh at myself, and rail against others at times.  I remember moments and renew my belief in our world, while questioning if the world will be better for future generations, especially my grandgirls.  I am more introspective and smarter about my own energy and I have learned with the words I release that I have little control of much. Yet, that’s all right and a sign of making some sort of peace with myself.

I also am a believer in a beginning, a middle and an end. I like order since around us is chaos (the orderly kind).  Therefore, I have realized that I have so much to do that I am ready to start.  It is somewhat like Marie Kondo-ing my commitment to my creativity.  I am letting go of this blog since I have loved it with all my heart but know it has served me well and it is time to send it off into the universe.  I have books written in  parts I must finish.  I have paintings to paint, and stories to tell my grandgirls and sweet fleeting time to spend with those I love.   I have  recipes to try and breads and cookies to bake. I have places to visit and people to meet for the first time and once again.  So much yet to do.

Shakespeare said it best, imho, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

I thank you, new readers and my longtime readers for your support, comments and encouragement.  I may stop in once in a while if something is pressing my heart or head and I need to let you know about it.  Wish me well and I shall do the same for you.  Till we meet again.

Playing Nicely

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Storytelling. Live Theater.  Movies.  Streaming programming.  The News or the news.  What draws us to this and why do we engage.  The elements of engagement have to do with how our emotions are toyed with, provoking reactions or responses to something basic in our own story.  When we examine and dissect something dramatic  or something humorous and take the story to heart, it becomes a piece of our understanding human to human.

The photo is from the  live production of The Lion King.  The first moments of the musical play captured the audience with joy and wonderment.  Our senses were surrounded  with sound and light and movement.The audience was primed for excellence and our hearts were open to feel. Children and adults were enraptured as we collectively held our breaths to be transported to something familiar, yet something new.

All our emotions surfaced.  Tears of happiness, moments of angst.  A good story that sapped our energy and left us with a sense of being a witness and  a part of something we understood.  It’s been a few weeks and I can recall the thoughts of what the components are that make us feeling that psychological connection with something we remember.  What makes a good story is what has always made writers write.  The elements are simple and include the obvious love, hate, jealousy, power, conflict, intolerance, going away, coming back, ambivalence, loss and found, inner turmoil, justice and might and the list goes on.   Shakespeare designed his works this way, as did the Bible.  We writers write the same story over and over again.   “The disclaimer at the end of the film refers to firms: The events, characters and firms depicted in the photoplay are ficticious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual firms, is purely coincidental. … Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”  But is it coincidence?

We all feel the same feelings at one point or another.  Do we tell our story or do we act it out?  Do we hide the truth, more from ourselves because we can’t or aren’t ready to face the truth, first to us and then to others.  We are certainly complicated.  We have Golden Rules, Ten Commandments, and all sorts of moral compasses to direct us. Yet we get lost, we break some rules, a few commandments and such and we live our lives to re-set and try again another day.  We live in the gray.  We justify our choices and outcomes until they don’t work anymore, and then we create alternative explanations.  This seems to be a human foible.  The cat can knock over the plant, and walk away.  Does she try and clean up the mess? Not in her lifetime or mine.  Do I forgive because she is a cat?  Neither. I just know that she is not malicious and I am her caretaker.  Do I get emotional about the plant or the mess or the cat. Sure, because I am a human.  Yes, we are complicated.  Cats are less complicated. Maybe this is why we surround ourselves with animals and see a show about the animal world which has all the elements of humanity.  Maybe we can take our lessons from puppets and animals that speak of things we also don’t do well as humans.

I recognize that to be entertained is to try to simplify a story on one level and on another to provoke the human experience and make us wonder, look inward and then outward.  It all wraps up in a satisfactory ending for the moment.  It is the circle of life.

 

Time Management

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Our resident three year old (almost three and a half year old) philosopher characterizes time as anything that happens in the future as tomorrow, and anything that happened in the recent past as  yesterday. She is not a stickler for accuracy but is more fluid in her sense of time managment.  We, the adults, run on a different clock and schedule.

Yesterday, I went to get a B-12 injection and the nurse remarked “has it already been a month?”.  Today I measure the two plus hours I sit and get an infusion for my RA and calculate that I will be back here again in December, and then at the end of January, and so on.  Teeth cleaning every six months, mammograms, every year and so on and so forth.  We maintain ourselves and our health in metered and scheduled time frames.  And then there is the time in between where we make it our business, or at least I do, to breathe and stay present in the moment and that is for my own emotional calendar which all comes back to taking care of ourselves.

When you’re three time is irrelevant.  How freeing it must be.  I look at my cat and think that at almost nine and a half, her life is closer to the end than to the beginning but she doesn’t know that and eats with gusto and chases imaginary mice (they’d better be imaginary or fabric) and chatters as her bird buddies sit on the fire escape in close, but not too close, communication.

I look out the window and see the gray skies and steady rain.  I hear the sounds of the air conditioning unit and look in the  windows of the hospital where other patients are hurting, healing and something in between, I imagine.  Hospitals represent the life span, birth to death and all in between.  I hear voices grousing about the cold and damp rain.  I remember summer rains when I was a child when my friend and I walked barefoot on city streets and washed our hair in the downpour and felt the water on our faces and I can still hear the laughter and joy in our experience.  I don’t grouse about the rain.

I’m hungry right now. My body doesn’t follow a structured eating schedule these days.  I get an urge for something and figure out if I can find it or what will feed my need.  My relationship with food has changed in a good way to an awareness of whether I am truly hungry or whether I look at an available clock or my phone to see if I “should” be hungry.  Hospital snacks often leave something to be desired but then again, sometimes graham crackers taste fabulous in the moment and I give in to that hardly naughty desire.

Hunger, sleeep, and all the other drives we humans experience.  We have been self driving for years and beyond.  Looking at little ones allows me to truly see that they have the their own formula one in racing terms. They keep things open and by themselves. They take charge of their “road” and negotiate their curves and rides till they rest.  Sure, there are clocks involved, but it is internal until the adults give it structure that they, the adults, need.  We talk about running on raw energy, and running out of steam or gas or stockpiling sleep.  Kids, as they get tired (really, really tired) just drop and nod off.  I used to be what I call a recreational napper as a child and certainly as a teen. I really can’t remember what made me tired as a fifteen year old that I “needed” a nap but I indulged.  Now, my mind keeps me busy and naps at bay.  I remember being very young and not wanting to sleep because I might miss something.  Still like that.  I don’t want to miss something.

I look up now and see that the medication is tapering off.  Writing attached to a tube, attached to a pole holding a bag of clear liquid, is different I suppose. But when I can write and pass time or be involved in something I truly engage with, makes things seem calm and like a ride on a train. Look out the window, look at my typing.  Chugging along. Life allows me to see what I want to and ride at my pace right now.  I’m in the moment and the moment is all good.

“The present time has one advantage over every other – it is our own.”

Charles Caleb Colton

Don’t forget it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month…ladies do what you need to do.

 

 

 

Flutter by

Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life. This year the number of butterflies has increased by 144%. It seemed to a non-lepidopterist like me that my casual eye was oddly correct in thinking and seeing more around these days around these parts. We are lucky to live along the east coast which is the migratory path (as much as three thousand  miles) of the Monarchs who head south for the winter, from Canada to Mexico. Quite a journey…I imagine they pack light, not like me.

Today  begins the  Jewish New Year (5780) . Rosh Hashanah is our time for renewal and reflection and hope. Not unlike the butterfly. Monarch butterflies use the very same trees each and every year when they migrate, which seems odd because they aren’t the same butterflies that were there last year. These are the new fourth generation of monarch butterflies, so how do they know which trees are the right ones to hibernate in? Something more that I can reflect upon in my thoughts of the year ahead and the year past.

Nature reminds us that we humans  are only  small part of the world.  Trees grow and stand and thrive in most cases long before and after we leave.  Rivers, streams and our oceans are in constant motion, like  animal and sea creatures, insects and humans.  They have their own vitality and rhythm.  We are mere moments in earth’s time.  A butterflies life is brief, significantly less than ours.  We can’t tell one from another but see the beauty and we share a moment with them.  They may or may not know we are there except as a possible threat but they endure and keep flying further than any other species. 

Today we walked along a shoreline path in a nearby community.  The property is private but welcomes the public during weekdays (except holidays) to walk or bike along  their road. It is a visual and emotional embrace of spirit and earth.  It is the walk that feeds our soul.  On this day we are reassured that  the synergy of little us and the world are in sync in the moment.  It is affirming and energizing and makes us know that this year is brimming with possibilities because to look around at the water and the trees and the flora and fauna   means we are alive.  There is a bench at the furthest point that we are permitted to go.  We sit in this pew like bench and look out on the water.  Gulls fly overhead, birds in trees sing, and the lap of the water against the shore is music in it’s own way.  We are quiet, and full of grace.  Prayer can happen anywhere.  

We rise and make our way back past the gate.  We don’t speak much because we are reverent in our surroundings.  A new year is a time to hope to meet our personal goals and to be good to others and also to ourselves.  To stop on this day to remember the past and those who came before us, and to acknowledge those who share the days with us now, and for those in the future who may remember us in their hearts, is simple and profound.  

L’shanah Tovah is what we say….A Good Year… to all things great and small and to the earth we love.  

 

 

 

Love Where You Live

Today was a good day. I like saying that. Brunch with friends we love, and time just enjoying the almost fall weather. Visited a library I had never been to which is always more exciting than going to a shoe store for me. Those who know me know that shoes are my jam but books are , by a volume of encyclopedias, always first in my heart. It was kind of a tease, since I am not a resident of Providence or Rhode Island, so I could look at them, peruse a few wonderful childrens’ books, but they couldn’t go home with me, even if I double pinky swore that I would return them. It was still just lovely to smell the smell that true booklovers know.

Later this afternoon, after unloading a couple of finds, which we truly did not need but that’s another story, I valeted our cars in and out of the garage so we could load our finds, (a workbench type cabinet, which I have already painted the same color as my toenails…a denim-y type blue) and an antique baby cradle, which I thought would be small and doll-like but turned out to be large enough for an actual baby. I mentioned that if I were a three going on four year old, I would climb into the cradle and turn it into my pirate ship and put all my provisions safely inside as I went to find my treasure. I was told that being three going on four was a ship that had long sailed away. My retort was that I can be three going on four, in my mind, anytime I want! So there! It’s easy…stick out your tongue behind someone’s back. Right! That piece we didn’t need sits near one of our ten foot tall windows, and is filled with pillows. The cat will probably rent it or just assume ownership, as cats want to do.

The best part of the day in a day that was pretty spectacular, was a lovely exchange on the famous, albeit slow elevator, that we travel on day after day. In a converted loft building which we share with two hundred and fifty apartments, dwellers and dogs and cats, you meet a lot of people and their fur babies. We always have a lot of moving in and moving out going on. After completing one of my errands to the parking lot and garage, I waited patiently (not really), for the elevator to arrive. The door opened, and a tall and lanky dreadlocked young man was pushing a piece of furniture (I knew his mission) off the elevator onto our floor. I suggested that I get on the elevator and hold the door so he could maneuver the piece off and out. He smiled broadly and we exchanged a look and he turned to me as he left with his furniture and said “Miss, I appreciate you” and I replied “And I appreciate you as well and wish you a good day and an easy time with your move-in. Welcome to the lofts. You’re going to be happy you’re here”. He beamed and pushed down the long halls and I went on my way.

I like looking for common ground with people I meet serendipitously. I offer smiles because the cost is free and the return is immeasureable. We live in times where there is suspicious, mistrust and blatant anger and sometimes, no, often times, hatred. Today was the march for recognizing that the world is on fire by the children of our world. Hatred and malcontent are also an outcome of a different change in our climate. I admire and support the children who are activists and agents of change, change we should all be contributing to. We can’t leave things the way they are and we have seen our mess and we teach our children to clean up their messes. We must, at the very least, work alongside them and envision that their future is secure because the world is fragile.

It’s been a good day, with good moments. I see the beauty in a face and hope in a smile. I see books that can take me on adventures and libraries that offer education on every subject on earth. I want my grandgirls to have the goodness I have found, and for their grandgirls to know the world for all the possibilities.

Love where you live. The earth needs our love.

Sunday Ponderings or How to Choose a Dog

A lot of people get the Sunday blues. For some, it’s a lonely day and for others, it’s the prelude to the start of the traditional work week. In the past, it was a gathering day for families, some for contemplation and quiet, for others it was just another workday. Over time, I have seen the blues, but gratefully, I took the quiet reflective part to heart, and let the rest be.

Today turned out to be a drive around like we owned Shell Oil kind of day. We drove into Rhode Island to a quiet part called Tiverton/Little Compton. It is truly one of the loveliest, most verdant areas to see the water in the not so distance view, and to see the farm stands abundant with colorful displays. We also had to get some information as to how to get rid of fungi (yellow and alien strange type of mushrooms in a potted plant). We went to our favorite nursery and got some advice that was no more complicated than using dish soap and warm water. A victory, albeit a small one. I’ll take them, one small one at a time.

Before we headed back to home, we made a stop at Fogland Beach to walk along the shoreline for a bit of shell and stone reconnaissance. Then, a urge for some type of cookie came over me, we found a shop that was about to close so they were happy to sell us one cookie to share and offered us a loaf of bread to take. The bread looked the size of the one Lucy and Ethel tried baking that backed Lucy out of her kitchen. We declined but said thanks, anyway. People are nice. As we left the shop, a black and white dog was tied to a bench right outside, not so patiently waiting for her owner. She immediately nuzzled me and licked my feet…she had me at the feet part. She loved the attention and had I not been on my game, she would have wrapped herself around me with her leash and I would have been in a pretty strange position. I pet her and said she was lovely. Her owner appeared and told me that Emma was about eleven months old and had learned a few tricks. I assured her that the wrapping and licking was a great start.

I miss my dog, Charley. Charley came to me at time when there were a lot of transitions. It’s been almost twenty-five years since we found one another. I had decided to get the kids a dog as a surprise. I went to the shelter and my plan was to find a female dog, younger than a year, on the small side. So, Charley was 55 lbs, male, and about three. It was those eyes. We locked onto one another and he became my wonderful buddy on a lot of Sundays when he and I were the only ones around. Emma had the same markings as Charley so you can figure out the draw.

Life has a way to present itself, when you need something, but you’re not quite as sure as you think, about what you are actually looking for. I’ve found houses that way, cookies, and a partner in life who showed up, let Charley sniff him and the rest is still going on. Charley lives in my memory as something precious for always. When I see objects or people that remind me of something or someone, I like to reflect on that for a while and find a good reason for a quiet Sunday. Today was filled with good things.

A thought for you…

A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content. 

Proverb

Lost and Found Memories

September is now here. Summer is fading away with just a subtle reminder of warm days and now cooler evenings. The sun is setting earlier with each day and we start this beginning of the last third of the year. I think back to one of the activities I tend to do with more free days than I’ve had before. I go into antique stores and visit flea markets and yard sales. I go to garage sales and second hand stores. I realized more recently that my mission isn’t to actual buy someone’s old things and make them my new old things, but rather to search, as I always do, but never was as aware of as I am now, for some dolls that were stolen more than twenty-five years ago on a summer night while my family was fast asleep. It wasn’t all that was taken, but it was jarring and sad and changed a sense of safety and security I had.

I always was a child who loved to play with dolls. I cut my Betsy Wetsie’s hair to see if would grow back. It didn’t. I had my collection of Barbies, both a bubble cut blonde, and a pony tailed blonde both looking long and lean and like no one I had ever seen. I had acquired several travel dolls from people who brought them back from trips as gifts to me. As time went on, they were dismissed but not discarded. I was growing up and they were not as important as they once had been, it seemed. When I was fifteen, I went with my parents to visit a friend in Connecticut. She took us to meet a couple, much older than my parents. We went into this very beautiful house that was filled with beautiful things carefully placed, almost like a showroom or museum. At fifteen, I knew to not touch and admire from afar. I was bored listening to the adults talk and not really taking in the conversation, but hoping that we were not going to linger there for much more time. The woman who owned the house turned to me and asked if I liked dolls. I told her that I always liked dolls and sheepishly admitted that I still had my dolls, but that they were no longer things I “played with”. She invited me, along with my parents, to follow her to the second floor of her home. She went to a door that had a special lock and some sort of alarmed device and she disabled it and invited us into the room past the door. The walls were lined with shelves encased in glass. Behind the glass was a collection of dolls of all sizes, kinds, and many of recognizable vintage. The collection was enormous and spanned the entire walls and floor to ceiling of this room. I was mesmerized as she talked about amassing this collection over many, many years. I saw a few that resembled some that I had acquired but none as beautiful or well cared for as these were. We thanked her for the “tour” and left to go home. My parents remarked that the woman and her husband never were able to have children. They had survived the Holocaust and settled in the United States and amassed quite a fortune but no children to inherit any of their possessions. It all left an impression. I went home to organize my dolls and began to see them as a way to study history, and art and to accumulate something that was meaningful. My collection grew over time. It moved with me when I left home and was part of my household, and displayed for others to enjoy and admire. That was until the night they were stolen from me.

One of the dolls, I continue to look for was my mother’s doll which she had from her childhood in Germany. It was a Kathe Krusse doll that was given to her in the early 1920s. I often wished I had listened to remember her doll’s name. She was well loved, and had long ago lost her shoes. Her dress was yellowed and ragged and her arm had been “painted” with brownish paint. My mother told me that she had wanted the doll to have a “tan”. When I inventoried what was taken based on photos I had taken long before, just in case, I saw that my mother’s doll was one of those that was gone. That was perhaps the hardest to bear. I had felt as though I had been given her doll to be the steward of her possession and although she understood that it was not my fault it was taken, it was something I continued to feel so sad about. I still do.

The remaining dolls have been packed away in tissue paper, carefully, and with love for what they represented over the past fifty plus years. I say that they have been placed in suspended animation and that they are “sleeping”. When I do, on rare occasion, open up one of the containers that hold them securely, I remember each one, where I got it and who gave it to me. I never collected another one after the robbery. I felt I could not keep them safe.

The worth of the dolls that were taken on that summer night was more than the dollar value they held. I had contacted many shops locally and slightly farther away to let the owners know that if someone tried to sell them, to contact me. They are long gone and I’ve never recovered any of them. Summer is fading away and I will, in most likelihood, be searching as I have always done. It’s less about the dolls themselves, but more about what is taken from us unwillingly. As the days move forward, we do also, and in some ways we don’t.

Enjoy this quote….

“But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head … The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on.

Robert Finch