Monthly Archives: September 2016

Farm Stand Happy

I tend to not use the term perfect, as I believe that few things are worthy of the word,and that we tend to lean toward hyperbole when talking about what perfection is.  Yet, when fall appears, both on the calendar and in our surroundings, it crosses my mind that sometimes I truly experience a perfect day.  Yesterday achieved that momentary status and actually the day before had hints of what makes me smile inside and feel the contentment that goes along with an extraordinarily lovely day.  To wake up to blue, blue skies and low humidity and feel the beginnings of a chill in the morning air is to define what a New England fall day is.  I have no excitement for other seasons as I do the fall. I am not a fan of snow or snowing, and summer is sometimes burdensome, because heat and I don’t see eye to eye.  Spring always seems to take a while to show up and I am not good at waiting. But I am a fall baby and revel in the anticipation of the changes that I am going to see, day by day.

Saturday was a day spent running the errands that comes with the weekend.  The highlight  of the afternoon was in stopping at a farm stand in the next town, and feeling the colors of the flowers and vegetables with their orange,  maroons, purples and deep greens.   Walking in and viewing a basket of assorted different colored carrots, flanked by the yellow and green summer squash, and the  deep, almost merlot colored brandywine tomatoes that evoked anticipation of the best salad possible, became a sensory experience.   It wasn’t just the vegetables, it was the comfort of the small  fragrant wooden building, with its wide open doors and view of fields of dahlias and green houses, filled with produce that generated an excitement like a surprise party filled with everything you could ever want, and things you saw you didn’t know you longed for, until they were right within your grasp.  Kind of like falling in love when you are lucky enough to find it.  I was absolutely farm stand happy.  I made my purchases and as I was turning to leave, I saw a small container of figs and that was the pinnacle of the moment.  The gentleman who helped me, smiled as I wore my delight right out there, like a home run   in the bottom of the ninth when the game was a winner already.  Triumph, figs came home with me.

Yesterday was another day spent outdoors filled with time spent watching the tugboats and  an assortment of pleasure boats, as they traversed the Cape Cod Canal.  I had my Sunday New York Times,and my FHB had his book, and we had a front row seat watching the boat traffic like a parade in front of us.  No words between us were needed as we knew that these days are simple and cherished.  We take nothing for granted but are grateful to be aware of these perfect moments.  Many folks think one day is like another, a sunset is a sunset, fall is just a season to be passed through.  I delight in the subtle differences and revel in the colors of sunsets and vegetables.  Like knowing that common sense is not so common, we also know that gifts of  spectacular fall days are always a possibility but not always a given.  Enjoy your week.

 

P.S. The word I was looking for in Friday’s post was “incubator”. My sister came through. Guess she knows how I think.

Sunday, Sunday….

I’m pretty sure that I am not the only one this morning who got a little tearful when it was time to say goodbye and godspeed to Charles Osgood, after twenty-two years  of spending time with someone who had become a friend, albeit not someone who ever came to dinner, but would have been welcome, any day, any time.  It was a reminder that we count on certain people to be our constants in our lives. It is also a reminder that we can measure the time of watching CBS Sunday Morning by seeing Charles (and  this is the most familiar name which  I will refer to him) grow older, week after week, year after year.  The depth of our mutual relationship with him was in the greeting we heard and the comfort he showed us when the stories aired were difficult, and we could feel the connection between the pixels from the television to the couch or chair  where we always watched him.

It was so lovely to see the life he has between Sundays and the people he loves and shares his days with.  A husband, a father and grandfather and a colleague, so loved and so admired.  It’s good to know that he makes pancakes, and plays the piano and seeing the beautiful home in the south of France he spends time at, makes it clear that although he relates to his viewers as a kind of “regular” guy in many ways, that he has worked hard and is an exemplary professional who is so deserving of this next chapter of his life.

Feeling like we are special to him as his viewers, his Sunday peeps, made it more emotional to let this part of our Sunday morning ritual change.  We know we have changed too and we grow older and we don’t often want some of the changes to happen but they do.  My peers of a certain age know that if Charles is retiring, can we be far behind?  Do we wonder what he thought about as he made the decision at 83 to call it a Sunday.  Our lives are busy, and thinking about our work lives and careers being finite at some point, if we are lucky to make that decision because it is our choice, can be daunting.  Working for many of us is defining our worth and what we “do”.  When we stop “doing”, we have to reset our mindset to know that our work is valuable but keeping it in context that our job is not our life.  All that surrounds our weeks (168 hours) surrounds our work. That’s our life.  So glad that Charles was a part of my Sunday and we know we will “see him on the radio”.  I’m feeling good about Jane, as she is another televison friend from way back, and I know she will be welcome at my breakfast table.

Forgetting to Remember

I was trying to remember the kids’ game where the objective was to take the cards it came with and mix them up,place them face down in a grid pattern, and then try and remember where the pairs were. You would turn them over and then remember the placement of the cards. The one with the most pairs would win.  I was trying to envision the particular game I saw in my brain.  I could not come up with it.  I Googled it….the name of the game was “The Memory Game”.  Need I say more?  Of course I must.

I try to take a positive spin on the amount of information I have on tap in my brain.  After so many years of experiencing things directly, or through the spoken word, or written word or Googled word, I know a lot.  My memory of information is remarkable.  Am I a savant? Of course not.  The content of what I  wish to remember at moments when I need to recall something, is usually inaccessible.  I have a theory about this, among the theories I have about things I think about a lot.  I see this blog as part of my ….wait a minute for me to remember what word I think captures this….still thinking….not green house, not laboratory, although that is somewhat like the word I am still trying to place….perhaps it will come to me, most likely during the night as my brain, much like IBM’s Watson, is going, going, going, until I figure it out.  I conceptulize our brains to be like a giant closet that we have had over time.  It is filled to what we believe is its capacity, until we go and buy another piece of black clothing, because we frankly can’t find the black piece of clothing that we know we have somewhere but when we need it, it is gone, baby, gone.  So we replace it and then magically, it reappears.  That makes us feel better,  because, you just can’t have enough black clothing if you are a cosmopolitan woman, or a cat burglar.  So here comes another random comment…why are cats considered sneaky….why is it Cat Burglar and Not Dog Thief….  Okay back to the brain closet.  I am constantly sorting through my closet, replacing things, reorganizing things, throwing things away inadvertently, or advertently(yes, a word).  So much stuff.  I have moved about 14 times in my life and I was not a military brat.  I find moving to be somewhat an opportunity to purge things that you don’t use.  Then you get to reorganize your stuff in your closets/cupboards etc.  The brain, as a metaphor, can be moved to many places, both emotional and psychological.  Like a closet, it has deep dark corners and in the shadows hides things we put away for safekeeping until we need to find them.  That’s the challenge, finding them when it is needed.

I have taken to being a list person.  It is the latest tool that I consider invaluable, much like Google.  Organizing my day, my thoughts, my tasks at hand, requires a list.  Who doesn’t plan to remember the things you need at the market, only to get home and find, that even when you see it and pass it in aisle 13, your jam packed brain, is not jarred visually and when you remember it, is well past when you saw it.  Along with that is the corrolary, that you buy something you spy in a store because you remember triumphantly that you need it (usually a condiment or five pounds of flour) only to find out that you had that very same thought last week and when you get home, you find that you now have ten pounds of flour and four bottles of mustard. Who among us, writes a list, and loses the list and finds the list, long after you need the list.  I want to rely on my memory but I think we all forget to remember.  It’s nice to be surrounded by the people I care about especially my FHB (for those new to this blog, it stands for Favorite Human Being, aka my husband who doesn’t like being reference by name).  My FHB is my back up closet.  We talk in that familiar code of statements such as “So, did you remember the thing?”  and he smiles and says “Yes, it’s in the car, I forgot to bring it upstairs”.  Or the ever familiar, when you are watching a television show…” doesn’t he look like what’s his name?” and he responds ” you mean the guy who was in that show about the guy who did something when he lost his memory or something like that?” It is such a comfort to know that when I can’t remember, in that critical moment, it doesn’t matter, because when I do remember, I can check it off my list.

By the way, I will take any and all suggestion as to the word I was trying to retrieve back in the beginning of this post. If I remember, I will post it on Monday. If I forget, hey, that’s life.

 

 

What’s your ekename?

I used to wish I was a Susan.  I have known a couple or three  or four Susans in my life. I liked the people, as they seem happy and cheery but I never saw any commonalities between them (or would that be among them).   I just didn’t think I should be a Barbara but it was the 50’s and there were a lot of us.  I went to elementary school with at least five other Barbaras and at times we were known as the Barbara Bs and the Barbara Ss and then big Barbara (who was very tall) and little Barbara (and I was very small). But that never did clear up the confusion as another Barbara was also small and we vied for first and second in line both in names and in height.  That being said, I am lucky that the maternal grandmother, for whom I was named, was the last one to date,  to have her  first name in the family, and that my name ended that possibility when I was not named “Bertha”.  I will always be grateful that my parents seemed to know that it might have been a burden at the very least.  I never knew her but always hoped that she would not have been offended that I didn’t carry on the name. I do know, throught family lore, that she had two nicknames, “Die Dicke”….translated as “The Big One”as she was a large girl,when she went to a finishing school where she was during her adolescence, and the name “Bertie” which was a diminutive of Bertha.

I did a bit of research about nicknames.  Actually the word came from the words
“eke” ,meaning addition, and name, which means name, oddly enough, and it means an additional name given, sometimes in affection, sometimes in ridicule, and sometimes in diminution.  I don’t ever remember anyone calling themselves  the name that became their nickname.  It seems as though others take the lead on this, and I can bear that out as I have been called “Barbie”, “Barbs”, “Babs”, “Babsie”,  “Basha” or “Bash”, “Barbieleinschin”, “Barbsie” and now, as a Grandmother,  I have taken on and prefer the term BeeBee.  I find that people like to call me a familiar name that they like.  I have never actually said to anyone… “that’s not my name”.  I just answer to just about any of them, and they are often attached to people that I am attached to, in a good way.  I thought, when I was younger, that if I actually referred to myself by  one of the myriad of nicknames I inherited,  that no one would take me seriously in life.  My parents started some of this business. Although we were a formal bunch and I would be introduced as  “My daughter, Barbara”, someone, or more than one someone would say “Nice to meet you,  Barbie”.  It was the generation of a doll with my name, as I was born before that famous, longlegged, tall and curvaceous woman of an unknown age.  She wasn’t the “Barbara”doll, was she?

I realize that the names I have been given, over time, grew with me as I grew.  They are milestones in my development and personal history.  The first of them, “Barbie” and the more recent iteration, “Barb” are reflections of the relationships I am involved in and the level of connection that people feel toward me.  For many of us, a nickname is a reminder of a prior time and an attribute that someone ascribed toward and about you.  I was lucky that my nickname was not done in ridicule, and grateful that I was not a Bertha when all is said and done.  This is a shout out to all the “Bunny”,”Red”, “Stretch” and “Buddy”s that are out there.  We answer to all of them and know it’s nice to be reminded of the kids we once were and the people who knew us when we were Barbie.  And of course, there is that woman, Barbra… She probably thinks I spell my name wrong.  That’s okay with me.

 

Quiet

I am listening to the sounds around me. I hear  the droning of cars accelerating down the highway outside my windows four stories below.  The ceiling fan is turning and the patterns of the churning of the air is comforting.  The appliances are making their constant low humming sound.  It is Friday and I am basking in the quiet of the late afternoon.  It is not silent, which is different. It is quiet and calm and the motion of my breathing, feeling sapped from a long week, but energized by the weekend’s possibilities.

Being alone in the loft is being free with my thoughts and allows me to consider my words in my head and prepare them for sharing.  I tend not to turn on music or television on days like this, but enjoy the solitude and restorative power of quiet.  I look around at the afternooon light as it creeps through the blinds and creates patterns on the wood floors.  This building’s history is deep in the floorboards. The hundreds of stitchers sitting in rows of sewing machines over so many years creating linens, then winter clothing ,and the memories in the eyelets and metal buttons and fixings that one can walk over, as they are literally imbeded in the wood beneath my feet.  Imagining the men and women who spent their lives in this one place, year after year, and wondering if they got bored with their daily routine, or did they take comfort in the sounds around them and if Fridays for them was as cherished as it is for me, signifying the end of a work week and hopefully a job well done, or at least done well.

I feel the rhythm in the sounds around me and the cadence of the motion.  It is somewhat like watching the ocean, with the repetitive flow of water back and forth, and the pull and the push. But this is what I am hearing and feeling just sitting and taking it in.  I think about how the days accelerate and how it seems as though it was just last Friday and soon it will be Monday and it will all happen again. But actually it won’t, it will just continue, and just seem familiar because we follow routines, like the stitchers, day in, day out. Breath in, breath out.

Managing quiet is a thoughtful process and conscious effort to filter out the noise we fill our lives with.  I choose to not talk on the phone or to open a book or newspaper or read emails. I choose to sit or lay on the couch with a cat on me and clear my head and let the week go.  Breath in, breath out.  There are many names for this, and others do something like I do, in groups or alone ,in yoga, or mindfulness or quiet reflection.  It requires no equipment, or financial investment, just some commitment to yourself and awareness of what quiet represents.

Quiet takes some practice as it is so easy at times to distract yourself from just enjoying the sounds but not participating in them.  I struggle to engage myself in the process because my nature is to be busy rather than to allow myself the often felt luxury of not doing and just relaxing.  I’m getting better at it and often the catalyst is recognizing that time wasted is not time not used, but rather appreciating the minutes to recharge and reflect.

Songs of my youth

I love music. I love humming along with songs that fly into my brain through my soul.  The moment I hear a song that brings me back, way back to being a teenager, is exhilarating as I completely remember where I first heard it, who I was with, and what time of  year it was. There were compilations of what I remember to be summer songs.  The Beach Boys were the kings of summer with their California lyrics of fast cars, girls they loved, and lots of high school moments.  Just writing this makes me smile and remember.  The harmony and lyrics are so easily captured and oh so humm-able (a new word you are welcome to share). When they sang “See You in September”, there was never a July or August that didn’t make me think of what that meant.  I was a counselor at a day camp for several years and there were the songs that you sang on the bus, including but not limited to “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”.  I was very shy and often listened and imagined singing along, and as I got older I joined in, as though my membership in the singalongs were part of my rites of passage.  The songs that I associated with summer romances included lots of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. When at 13 I had my first boyfriend, an older boy who was 16, and by the end of summer, it was a case of “Young Girl Get Out of My Heart” as I was dumped for someone else.  I still like the song, not so much the creep who left me for someone else.  I still had the music, if not the guy.

Growing up in NYC in the 60s and 70s meant I got to go to concerts in Central Park. They were part of the Schaefer Festival that included The Young Rascals, Hugh Masekela, Moby Grape (!), Sergio Mendes, Blood, Sweat and Tears and so many other historical figures in Rock and Roll. It was amazing to be part of this huge crowd, and be allowed by my very protective parents to take a subway into Manhattan with my best friend,  and witness these amazing bands, some of whom were just starting out, and some of whom were the roots of a revolution.  Tickets were $2.00, first come, first serve, pizza slices were 15 cents and 45 rpm records were under a dollar.  The music resonated through the crowds and it was as though you were part of an undulating mass of people, sharing the energy.  New York had the Fillmore East and I remember going to hear “The Band” and  standing in line watching the people in all sorts “That 70s Show” clothing except that this was the real deal.

My friends and I collected small cases that we filled with our 45s.  My best friend was much more organized than I was and she was the librarian of my collection,writing down the names and artists.  They were covered in psychedelic  prints called Op Art.  Yes, I still have them,despite giving up my record player and turntable long ago.  Listening to them over and over and over again till the grooves were like worn down tires.  We were the groovy generation and it was sweet.  At the end of the year, Cousin Brucie a.k.a. Bruce Morrow  at WABC radio, did his countdown of the Top 100 hits of the year and my best friend, Judy (the  45s librarian) and I kept lists of what we listened to as we filled in our top song list to capture them all. We would talk on the phone to update our lists.  The music was the  history of our times as teenagers and it made the culture of our lives rich. It was wartime, again, and we heard our history in the songs around us.  It was the time of racial unrest and the conflict between keeping the peace and fighting for what we believed we believed.  Not so different from today…..not so different at all.

So now it’s 2016 and I can look back in the rearview mirror and remember the songs that formed my being in so many ways.  The music captured my soul and my sometimes broken heart and I like remembering the good times and wish that history did not repeat itself but rather made some gains for all of us. Peace out, brothers and sisters.  Love one another, always and forever.

 

 

Small disappointments

This morning,  as I went out the door, I realized that hot coffee, home brewed, was not going to make me cooler since the humidity was high and the temperatures climbing.  I don’t wish time away, ever, but I am just not a fan (no pun intended) of hot weather.  I am ready for cooler temps and anxious, not to wear shoes and socks, but to need a sweater, once in a while.  In order to hydrate and beat some of the heat in the workplace, I made an executive decision to turn into the national coffee chain,  located on my way to work, and get an iced coffee.  I’m not a complicated or sophisticated coffee connoisseur, I’m a medium, french vanilla, four cream and a Splenda person and if it can be mixed to distribute the contents, that would really be nice. Is that too much to ask?  I am sure some of you are questioning my gustatory proclivities and probably think I am too plebeian.  Not true, but close, when it comes to coffee.  I don’t think I care about espresso or latte or such.  Simple, relatively straightforward, and correct.  So, here’s the ridiculous part,  as I drove up to the speaker,  I asked, in my clearest, former speech therapist’s voice, for “One medium iced tea, lemon and one Splenda”.  I arrived moments later at the window and received my tea and drove to work.  Okay, you may be looking back at the beginning of this blog post and thinking “I thought she was talking about coffee”.  I chickened out. I was worried about whether my request would be considered and created, or whether it would be discarded and I would get something not even close to my order.  I have   “Bad  Morning Coffee Disappointment Syndrome”.  It’s a chronic syndrome that happens more often than not. I don’t like telling people about it but I know I am not the only one this happens to.  I felt that it was time to share it here and now.

 

On more than one occasion, when I order coffee, to go , either at a chain or a local establishment, the order is wrong, especially in a drive through situation.   Often, I don’t taste it until I get to where I am going and when I take that first, critical morning sip, I know that I have been messed with.  It either has no cream, no Splenda, about a cup of sugar (ew!) or is burnt, or hazelnut flavored (ugh!).  I am pretty close to heartbroken and feel quite defeated.  My ritual has been disturbed.  The rest of the day is potentially threatened, and often there is no turning back.  It can get ugly, and I often have to warn people who approach me shortly after my discovery, that it may not be a good day, and they might want to walk away quickly.  I feel a momentary sense of paranoia and wonder if it was something I said to affect this outcome.  Did I not say what I wanted? Was the person (remembering that I don’t go to places with barristas) decided that every third or fifth or seventeenth person was not going to get what they ordered, just because they could do that?

As defined “disappointment is the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations”.  Nailed it…that’s the feeling.  Not the worst thing in the world, certainly.  However, I like things that go my way, that I can count on and not have to spend too much time overthinking.  I believe that to be part of the human condition….reasonable expectations and reasonable outcomes.  Yes, it is just a cup of coffee, and there are far more important things in life in general that require attention and consideration.  Our mornings are the beginnings of a new opportunity each day. This is a chance for us to take the day and make it ours and change the things we can control and perhaps take a new view of something and make it better or best. I am an optimist in most things and a pragmatist in others.  As for today’s coffee, it seemed easier to order tea  and not chance a small disappointment.  The fall will come and cooler weather will be on it’s heels.  I will wear sweaters and leave iced coffee behind and hope for the best.  Hot coffee, home brewed, will be with me. It won’t disappoint.  I feel better already.