Posts

Showing posts from January, 2011

My World Tuesday: Winter Made Me Do It

Image
Record levels of snowfall have caused level records of cabin fever have caused record levels of out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
In our wee humble abode, that has meant that I have not been out for a walk in more than a week. Usually, I'm good for five miles a day and then some. I have put those miles on my dad's old elliptical trainer, so I've gotten the exercise for the body.




But the mind. That has not wandered far. To remedy that my daughter and I did what we never do. We went to the mall. The big and lovely one in West Hartford called Westfarms. The one that does not look like a factory or a warehouse or somebody's turned-over box room. No. We put on some decent clothes, polished our shoes, and went to the mall. For five hours. We toured ever store but Lord & Taylor.  (I had suggested a few museums as options for a day out, but she chose the mall.  I am not a shopper, so malls generally hold no appeal for me. But we weren't there for the shopping. Not really…

Today's Flowers: Spanish Moss

Image
The Spanish moss depending from the trees in the burial ground of St. James Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, seemed to luxuriate in the December sunlight as Della and hung over the fence and took photos of these botanical widow's weeds.

Today's Flowers

Loving the Moment

Image
I love snow. I love snow days.

I love my daughter.

Give me a snow day with my daughter, and I'll learn plenty because she is a great teacher. She is a sweet and gentle girl, and looking for ways to open doors for her to enjoy life, learn, and grow on a snowy January day is what I call heaven.
Arriving at heaven is a random process around here, though.
For example, last week while rummaging through a storage tub full of wrapping paper, I unearthed some Mardi Gras masks that are about a decade old but are beautiful. So we dismanted our Christmas wreath and reinvented it as a Mardi Gras wreath with our gold, purple, and green doodads and a hot glue gun.
If you've got a wreath, you've got a party. If you've got a party, you've got to gather your friends around. If you do that, you know you need food.
So we planned a Mardi Gras party. My daughter designed the invitations and picked some recipes she thought would work. We have been trying them out, and Della has been eating…

One Single Impression: Evening

Evening The light slips away And there is nothing To see or touch or taste Only close your eyes  And dream  Drift Into the quiet dark 
Of hope
Love,
Truth,
And peace
Safe and warm; The world itself Your evening.
One Single Impression

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

Image
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson
Three Cups of Tea is the story of Greg Mortenson's adventures as he has made a life of building secular primary schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past 20 years with private donations and the help of his beneficiaries and without government money.
Mortensen's humanitarian odyssey began, it would seem, by chance. He fell in love with Pakistan while mountain climbing K2, the world's second higheset mountain, as a young man after his sister died. Cared for by villagers after sustaining an injury and getting lost, his time of recuperation became a time of discovery as he fell in love with the people and the place. He promised the villagers he would return and build them a school.
Though he lacked the means--or even the slightest idea of how to acquire the means--to fulfill this promise, he eventually did, and one project led to another. As he became more well-known amon…

Skywatch Friday: Color, Character

Image
My bedroom is orange--the ceiling and all. Stepping into my room is like stepping into a sunset. I love it because it always feels warm and subdued in there, even if the dimming effect the color has on the electric light has caused me to mismatch my socks on many a morning. Leafing through photos of Topsail this week, I found myself leaning again toward the strong oranges in the sky.  I crave that subdued warmth and beauty. (There will be another day for me and the soft blues and golds.) Orange throws its arms around you and holds you close and smiles in your face the way no other color does.
Here's to you and your beautiful life.

Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: Dance of the Water

Image
Not hammer-strokes, but dance of the water, sings the pebbles into perfection. (Rabindranath Tagore)
Wordless Wednesday

Strange. Bread.

We save cold toast
In the fridge
With things that

Unlike toast

Do well cold.

Because we make our own bread.

We save cold toast
The way we save duplicate photos
And the blurry ones
And the bad ones

That manage to capture

Something

Of someone we love.

Take our bread from the fridge;

Taste our world.

My World Tuesday: Crossing that Walk

Image
We're simple people, my daughter and I. Small things can amuse this. This crosswalk is an example of a small amusement. Or should I say this solar-powered talking crosswalk manufactured by Stop Experts Incorporated. "Stop Experts? There are experts on stopping?" My daughter was beside herself with laughter. Her little dog wondered what the joke was. He can't read.

I forget to mention the sign is bilingual. The lady inside who does the talking is not,  however. Illiterate speakers of Spanish are out of luck at this intersection; illiterate speakers of English stand a chance.  (I note that none of the sentences above have end punctuation. Anyway....)

If you follow directions and are polite to The Driver, you can continue on your way enjoying the very beautiful gardens that line the streets of Historic Wilmington. 


If you keep walking and turn this way and that way and again and keep going, you might come across the very beautiful St. James Parish church, in the garden of…

Today's Flowers: A Rose from Yesterday

Image
Here's a rose from last summer. This one did its living in mom and dad's garden. I came across the image when I was searching through some SMS cards for some images I had captured in North Carolina at Christmas. Finding this delicate beauty stopped me in my tracks. Looking it over, I got to thinking how much has changed since last summer. Every beautiful moment passes as swiftly and subtly as a breath.  Life offers no guarantees. All we can do is show up, day after day, and hope for a little love and sunshine and goodness.
Today's Flowers

One Single Impression: Quagmire

Image
Langorous earth wraps heavy limbs
Around the timid sunlight of January
She softens with breaths
That will become roses, come June.

This earth that cannot bear your weight
Will bear your dreams

If you step aside.
One Single Impression

If You've Got the Time, I've Got the Calendar

Image
Buying a calendar is not just buying a calendar anymore.
Now you've got to bond with the WhoeverItIs.com that manufactured the thing like you're friends.
Or something.
Buying from leads to bonding with. So it goes in the age of social networking. We invite everyone up for a night cap.
For example. I bought a very old-school pocket calendar for myself at Barnes & Noble in December before the big mark downs. I just wanted one so I could make a decent effort at not forgetting all the dates that I have a habit of comprehensively screwing up year after year.
I had wanted the Moleskine I had seen at Border's, but there were non on deck at B&N, so I settled for the one the cashier said was near the coffee, which I didn't want but which put me in the cozy, happy mood to buy something because it was so near the coffee. 
The Ecosystem calendar published by sterlingpublising.com stayed in its wrapper until after Christmas--which is to say Monday.  I'm not good with calendar…

Skywatch Friday: Insert Here the Silence

Image
A friend remarked to me once that 13 hours is a long time in the car to get to the beach. 
Why do that when you can hop in the car and comfortably be on the Jersey Shore in four hours?
Insert here the silence that backs away slowly lest it offend. The silence that aches with loneliness because, try as you might, wish as you will, life itself seems to keep you from sharing all that is beautiful here in a way that you wish you could.

My cameras are the bridges I carry with me. Thank you for making the crossing, for being here in heaven with me.  

Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: Still....

Image
“Only from the heartCan you touch the sky.” (Rumi)Wordless Wednesday

Book Review: The Fourth Hand by John Irving

Image
The Fourth Hand by John Irving

The Fourth Hand, John Irivings 2004 bestseller, is the story of a talking head who works for a TV version of the National Enquirer. What is sordid, outrageous, and not really worthy of our attention is the stuff of the network for which Patrick Wallingford reports.
His own maiming while by a lion in India while he is reporting a story about the circus industry makes him the subject of his own network's reporting. He becomes The Lion Guy, One-Hand.
He also becomes the subject of a medical experiment in hand transplantation that places him in the company of one Doris Clausen, whose recently decease husband's hand becomes Wallingford's third hand for a little while.
The encounter with Mrs. Clausen effects Wallingford in ways he could not have imagined at that point in his fast-paced, high-profile, completely insubstantial point in his life. Wallingford, a shallow, thoughtless womanizer (a good looking guy who does not seduce but is seduced over an…

My World Tuesday: Just the Way it Is

Image
My friend Brian, who is a Buddhist teacher, ran a day-long retreat Sunday.  We spent the day, as he said, doing nothing--except, of course, that we observed everything. 
Another nothing that was really something was decorating birdhouses any way we felt like it. I tore up a few meditations and pasted the paper on anyway it felt like going. The strips of paper made me think of bandages, which in a way made perfect sense. Letting the paper take its own course, I saw the words interact with each other differently and tell me something new. 
Brian had begun the day by inviting us to consider that there is nothing to fix--in ourselves, in our world--because everything is perfect as it is.  Thinking about this later--as I sat in front of my computer to prepare this post before bedtime--it seems to me we have to get our arms around this idea before we can open them to the rest of the world.  It seems to me to focus on what is flawed can blind me to what is beautiful. That's no way to live.…

Today's Flowers: A Clyde's-Eye View of the Lawn

Image
These blossoms made their way through dad and mom's lawn in North Carolina and managed to live well for a few days before the lawn guys came along and chopped their heads off. We have to live well while we can!

I owe it to my daughter's dachshund Clyde for having a seat alongside these flowers one afternoon last summer and thus pointing them out to me.  I hadn't noticed them before.
| Today's Flowers

One Single Impression: Carnival

Image
You climb
The few stairs
Bolted uncertainly
To the soft earth

And you are gone from me

Tossed into space that blurs
The world
Into an impossible rainbow

Turns the treetops
Into the swaying cradle
Of your fleeting dreams

Makes you the queen of a sky
Out of which stars fall into your open hands.

Your voice makes music
Of pure delight.

Down here
I hold your prizes from the arcade games
Your bags of taffy and kettle corn
Your few remaining coins

And the sweater
I insisted on.
(The walk to the car is always cold.)

In minutes
You will return,
Having tested the bond
Between our worlds.

It holds.
It brings you back

It keeps me
Following.

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” (Rumi)

One Single Impression

REM: Night Swimming

I hope you have a few minutes this Friday night to sit back and enjoy Nightswimming:

This is a beautiful song. Enjoy.

Review: Inside of a Dog

Image
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

That bark--that incessant, sharp, and, oh, so very loud bark--is a good thing. It is an invitation to play. Though to my ears it is rather like a drill sergeant's inviting me to drop and give him 50, it is a friendly appeal. Until I read Alexandra Horowitz's Inside of a Dog, What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, I was sure my daughter's dog, Clyde the dachshund mix from the shelter in Monroe, hated my living guts.

Having read this book, I feel better. And smarter.
The gentle, humble look--the look that says, 'Do with me what you will'?--when my daughter puts him in his winter coat is a look of submission, but this is not a good thing. The winter coat is like the blanket under which we used to insert him every night, thinking it was a good thing. When I told my daughter that in Clyde's mind this was a show of our dominance, the tucking-in came to an end. (The wearing of coats continues because he shi…

Skywatch Friday: Carolina Blue a la Wilmington

Image
When we sat down on a park bench to dig into our apple-pie flavored Carolina taffy in December, it seemed to me the sky looked as happy as we felt. The karma was good all around.

Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: Waylaid on the Cape Fear River

Image

Meet Lenito, Lenetia Lenore, Kobron

Image
Meet Lenito, Lenetia Lenore, and Kobron.  These little shell turtle souvenirs from Topsail are the avatars of Lennie, the Kemps ridley turtle who is a permanent resident of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hopital on the island. Our classroom mascot, Lennie was rescued by and named for a fisherman after Lennie had been badly injured by some other fisherman who had beaten him blind.
I had begun this school year by showing my classes my homemade video of a loggerhead turtle hatchling's making his way to the ocean from his nest on North Topsail Beach in North Carolina. I had asked my students to consider how they are like the turtle.  They connected instantly. The turtle is small; the ocean is big.  People can help the turtle get safely to water, but they can't swim for him.  Nor can they guarantee his survival. The dangers are big and the work is hard and you're on your own. And the world can be cruel.
And, Miss. Those waves are big.
After I showed them the video, I introduced them…

My World Tuesday: On the Fence in Wilmington, North Carolina

Image
I first glimpsed this art installation called the Key Fence during a horse-drawn tour of historic Wilmington, North Carolina, last summer. The fence surrounds a corner lot in the heart of the city, and it is covered with thousands upon thousands of keys.  Many are ordinary, but some are extraordinary.  We had a chance to take it in when we were in North Carolina during the Christmas break.
As someone who is always checking and double-checking where my keys are, the wall made me laugh. I wondered how little it mattered to the original owners of these keys that these keys were gone. What wasn't opening or closing as a result? And does it matter? The artwork made me laugh at myself and lighten up.


In the background of this shot is the Coast Guard cutter Diligence.

I liked the blending of colors and textures from the bottom of the empty lot to the sky. The fence seemed to me an illusory portal; all barriers seem to be illusions. How seriously should we take them?  We are as elemental as …

Who Needs Curtains...

Image
...when you have these outside your window?



Today's Flowers: Coastal Carolina

Image
The grasses and the trees growing along the intracoastal waterway in Surf City, North Carolina, radiated the warmth and light of summer even in late December. Of such things I can't seem to get enough.
Today's Flowers

One Single Impression: Abundance

Abundance:
The silence before snowfall
That puts a foot between the door
Of Midwinter and April

The silence

The stillness

The solitude

The invitation to stillness and solitude

That does not say

Though it means

Be still and quiet.
Say nothing.

You can feel it.
Open your mouth and you'll taste it
Though your open hands
Will not grasp it.

Here is an abundance

Stillness and quiet
Beckoning the snow.

One Single Impression

Blokus!

Image
When the snow finally started mid-afternoon today, Della and I realized we had been just about holding our breath for it all day. The sudden and abundant fall of snow came as a relief--and continues to come. We got Clyde out for a good, long walk in it and then settled down to an old favorite--the board game Blokus. Adella is a ruthless player, but she's fun.

Skywatch Friday: Got You, Fly Boy

Image
This is a sculpture of a venus fly trap in Wilmington, North Carolina. The plant is a native of that state and of South Carolina. This sculpture by Paul B. Hill, a conceptual metalsmith and sculptor from Wilmington, stands at the bottom of Market Street and seems hungry only for the blue sky in sunshine.

Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: New River Inlet Light

Image
Not a great photo. But the moment. Peace and solitude and the surf caressing North Topsail Beach into the quiet of sleep and Christmas was over--but the magic of winter only begun.... Happy Day.
Wordless Wednesday

My World Tuesday: Mt. Vernon

Image
When we visited Mt. Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia, last Sunday, the cold blowing across the Potomac left me feeling the unfortunate fool in Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire."  Happily, we were able to take in George and Martha Washington's very fine home and check out some of the outbuildings and the grounds before we froze up good and stiff.  We learned more about the  mansion from the guidebook after the tour; the docents weren't very friendly as they rushed overlarge groups of patrons through the house as if we were uninvited Christmas guests. The museum and education center had plenty to offer, though. Washington was a man of means who used his resources to make an outstanding life for himself as a surveyor, soldier, officer, statesman, farmer, and family man. 
My World Tuesday

Ocult in Virginia

Image
I noticed this tag on an overpass somewhere in North Carolina the other day. When we stopped in Thornburg, Virginia, to gas up and walk the dog, there Ocult was again, this time getting iced.

Review: Sonic and our Favorite Gas Station

Image
Adella and I were feeling hungry as we rolled into Wilmington, North Carolina, the other day, so we pulled into Sonic for the first time.



We were ready for a great meal. Everyone says "Sonic's is bangin'"--from my parents to the girl who used to sit in the front row of my class and sleep last year--except for the time she lifted her said to offer a review of the food at Sonic. So we were ready for great.




Dell ordered chicken and a bunch of other stuff. She put her best bud in his crate before the food came.



When the food came, we ate. When the guy on inline skates came back for me, we kept right on.





Later, while we were walking around Wilmington, we had our after-dinner mints.



And then I asked the big question. How, I asked, does Sonic compare to the gas station we love and live for as we make our way through Pennsylvania every time we come to this most delightful of places? How does Sonic compare to Sheetz? I asked.



No comparison. The fries are crispier and lighter …